Lord's Day Liturgy

Sinful Exhortations

One of the hazards of exhorting a church-full of believers to confess their sin every week is that I usually don’t give an exhortation about every possible sin and I know that not everyone has committed the particular sin receiving attention. If the net is too loose, nothing is caught, and if the net is too tight, it might just be dragging up junk.

I’ve been especially mindful about this recently because calling other people sinners, or at least calling them evil, is popular. There are numerous assumptions slung out in our society that others are wicked, and numerous calls for others to confess their wrongs, and those calls are manipulative lies. The exhortations themselves are sin.

Here’s one example, followed by an admonition to the flock.

You can’t open up the Kindle app these days without seeing ads for books related to racism and Black Lives Matter. One of the books I’ve seen promoted the most is called White Fragility; it’s good business and a lot of businesses are apparently using it for employee training. Here’s one review of the book by Samuel Sey, White Fragility Is Pro-Racism, with a variety of quotes from the book, and wow. The author says that you do not need to have hatred in your heart to be a racist, in fact, failure to think about how racist you are is itself damning evidence. You must be anti racist, meaning that you must acknowledge your indifference to how oppressive you are, by definition.

But remember that God defines sin, that while it is possible to sin without knowing it, it most certainly is not appropriate for me to call something sin that you don’t realize if God hasn’t said it.

So in the church, be careful calling other people liars when you don’t know if they are lying. Be careful calling other people cowards because they don’t stand at your spot on the wall. Be careful calling other people proud because they have chosen a time and place/person to fight. Be careful calling other people indifferent because they aren’t as cautious. There are choices, such as eating or not eating meat, that aren’t the kingdom (Romans 14:17). Paul both rebuked Peter for a crucial time when he didn’t eat (Galatians 2:11-14) and rebuked the whole Roman church for judging each other both ways (Romans 14:3).

There are no commands in the Bible about masks or political parties or locations for worship. There are many principles, and we want to be wise and bold and loving and do what is best, fully convinced in our own mind (Romans 14:5). But while you seek to be provocative, seek to do it in a way that does not falsely accuse your brothers.

Lord's Day Liturgy

How Many Doors

A couple weeks ago we took my mom back to the airport, which is about an hour from our house. I had finished almost an entire pot of coffee before we left, so I really needed to use a bathroom. On our way home we stopped in north Seattle at a gas station, and as I entered, I realized that someone was behind me. I turned around and there was a man four or five steps from the door, who seemed to be uncertain about where he was going. The door hadn’t closed entirely, so I stepped back to push it open, which is something I do on a regular basis.

I didn’t pay close attention to what he looked like, and his staggering made me wonder if he was all there, but he did eventually come up to the door, prop it open with his foot, and then he said, “It doesn’t matter.”

I took a few steps into the store, when I realized that this guy was not out of it, he was upset. I turned toward the aisle he was in and said, “So, did you mean it didn’t matter that I held the door for you because our skin is different?” And he said, “There’s nothing you can do to deal with your white guilt.” He was teaching me a lesson.

I tell that story to say a couple things. First, we ought to be grateful for God’s Word that tells us what to be guilty about. It’s not good that we sin against His standard, but at least we know what it is. Likewise, we know what is gift, which includes our ethnicity, gender, height, hair color, and more.

Second, we ought to be grateful, again, that salvation is by faith not works. How many doors would you have to hold open to deal with guilt? How many knees to you have to take, how many self-flagellating social media posts? How long would you need to stay at a white repentance ceremony? That is an horrific liturgy, that offers no grace, no security, no fellowship.

Instead, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), there is communion. Communion with God is a privilege only given to some, a special honor God grants entirely by His grace.