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Two Tweets on Jesus and Sinners

Tweeted on 12/19/09:

Yancey (summary): “Jesus was the friend of sinners. The modern church has presented itself as the enemy of sinners.” Hard to argue with him.

Tweeted on 12/21/09:

“Jesus receives and befriends sinners.” In the mouth of the Pharisee, this is an accusation. In the mouth of the Christian, it is adoration.

8 Responses

  1. Oh! I thought that first was Brian Maclaren.


  2. You disagree, I gather?

  3. I guess I might disagree, but as I am not sure who is meant by the modern church, or what is meant by friend, I cannot be sure.
    If modern church means the attractional church, or the emergent church, then I disagree in that they seem more committed to pleasing the sinner than anyone else. However they do so love to lampoon any churches that espouse holiness or righteousness as judgmental sinner haters.
    If modern church means groups in the latter category, then I am sure that some (possibly many) have gone too far in the pursuit of said holiness and righteousness, and have erred too far into condemnation of the person instead of the nature of fallen man. But certainly to paint all with that brush seems a bit unproductive.
    Then we must define friend, is that one who tolerates and includes regardless of orthodoxy or orthopraxy, or is one who (as I read the gospels) like Christ, met with and sought out the sinners in order to teach them what they must do to attain right standing before a Holy Triune God.
    Seems that a friend loves, and gives what is needed, surely doesn’t settle for simply what is wanted.

  4. Chris,

    Without having the context, I would also disagree with this. If we assume “modern church” means the popular churches of today, the Jesus presented by them is not generally presented as “the enemy of sinners,” but rather as “the best bud” of sinners (strikeout sinners and replace with some less offenseive wording – perhaps morally challenged individuals), content for the sinners to remain exactly as they are rather than repenting of their sin and followng Christ with their life.

    The Jesus often presented in many modern churches is not an “enemy of sinners” in the manner of presentation, but is in reality an enemy of sinners, because the Christ presented is usually not a Christ that saves. The Christ of the Bible is holy, awesome, terrible, loving, gracious, merciful, righteouse, etc. The Christ of the Bible does say “let him that is without sin cast the first stone”, but he also then says “go and sin no more.” The Jesus generally presented in the modern church says the first part, but leaves out the second.

    Just my thoughts,


  5. Hi, all. I appreciate your thoughts. And Frank, that makes perfect sense.

    My understanding of this obviously subjective statement is essentially this…

    Notorious sinners were very much welcomed by Christ. He received and befriended and ate with them. He also confronted them and saved them and changed them, but He didn’t shew them away from the start, like the Pharisees.

    What I understood Yancey to be saying (thoughI’ve gone on record as being disappointed with the book) is that the modern church has the reputation (due to political activism, etc.) of being very much the enemy of homosexuals, those who have had abortions, etc. I’m not suggesting that the positions for which we lobby are mistaken, but I think the average homosexuals assumes that evangelical/fundamental Christians are disgusted by him rather than burdened for him. And he’s generally right.

    Make sense?

  6. I heard one preacher say that God is the friend of sinners and the enemy of sinners, both at the same time and in the proper balance. We should be too, but it is hard to hold both positions as flawlessly as Christ. There are some sinners, no matter how friendly you are with them, will consider you antagonistic towards them if you say they will go to hell if they don’t believe like you. Intolerance of sin is the greatest sin in the minds of sinners today. And, even though Jesus held these contrasting positions in perfect, righteous harmony, people still reacted against him in his day.

    If a homosexual or a goth comes into a church where most of the members seek to please God in their lifestyle, they are naturally going to feel out of place, as much as I would if I walked into a gay bar wearing khakis and a Wilds golf shirt. We can and should reach out to such persons when they do visit (and we have at our church), but I don’t think Yancey should make the church feel guilty for wanting to see their political agenda thwarted.

    The main objective of their agenda is social acceptance. I think the church has a duty to stand up and publicly say, “No, that lifestyle is sin and it displeases God. It would be wrong for America to embrace that lifestyle as normal, or to change the definition of marriage.” I see that as a valid, gospel-centered message of the church.

    No doubt we can all do a better job of loving sinners, and making sure that if sinners do react against us, it is because they hate the message, not because we have been bone-headed in our interactions with them. Perhaps that is all Yancey is saying. My impression, though, and I could be wrong, is that Yancey would be supportive of the more man-centered accommodations that Frank and others have mentioned.

  7. He’s hard to figure, Andy. I don’t doubt that he would call sinners to repentance, and he demonstrates that Jesus did so, say with the woman caught in adultery or the woman in John 4. He didn’t tolerate her sin; He confronted it, but also freely forgave it if they would repent. Yancey points out such things. And he seems to be sypathetic with a moral political agenda.

    On the other hand, he says some stupid things, as I mentioned here.

    This particular statement just resonated with me. Sinners were convicted by Christ, but also attracted to Him as the source of help. I’d like our church to have that affect on people in NE Ohio. And I think it’s something we need to work at.

    Glad we’re all thinking about the topic, at any rate. Thanks for chiming in, all.

  8. Chris,
    May God bless you and your family this Christmas, and guide the work of your hands.

    i do absolutely believe that we must work harder to see sinners as Christ does, then again we should probably try be more like Him in all that we do.

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