Some years ago there was a show called Truth or Consequences. There were many hosts but most remember Bob Barker. The contestants had only a few seconds to answer truthfully or face the consequences. We continue in our series from the book of Romans, "From a Pastor's Heart". We started last week with the love of God. That is first base for Christians to understand the love of God. As Christians, we are freed from the penalty of sin, but that doesn't mean we can continue to live in sin. When we know something's wrong we are called to repent, stop doing whatever it is and live like Jesus. There are some, however, who fail to take the holiness of God seriously and erroneously believe they can do whatever they want. Paul wanted the church to know that if they continued in Godless behavior there would be consequences. Our passage will be Romans 1:18-25.
A special note from the pastor: I want to encourage everyone to read the passage immediately following verse 25. It contains one of the concerns standing at the forefront of our own United Methodist denomination. The question has to do with homosexuality and how we should respond as a church. Some claim our greater responsibility is to simply love, not passing judgement on anyone. Others, we would respond as Jesus did with some of the questions from Pharisees, "What do you read"? Homosexuality in this passage is clearly called a sin... But SO ARE THINGS LIKE GOSSIP AND ARROGANCE. I refuse to single out homosexuality or make this the main thrust of the message. Many have used this to excuse judgemental and bad behavior by some Christians toward the LGBTQ+ community. For that, I am truly sorry. I believe Paul added some of these other sins so that no one would feel superior. We ALL stand in the need of grace. Paul quickly adds in chapter 2, "You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else." God is the only one qualified to judge.
I was recently asked if God-fearing homosexuals would be in Heaven. I responded, "I don't know. Do you think there will be any God-fearing gossipers in Heaven"? My real answer for both is yes. What sends people to Hell is the arrogance that they believe they are better than anyone else and they don't need as much grace as the next person. The point is... we all stand in the need of grace. I as your pastor hold firmly to the Scripture, and from a "pastor's heart" want to help all understand and repent of any sinful behavior. God is so much bigger than sexuality, arrogance, gossip, or slanderers. We are all called to lay our lives down, our wants, our wills and our desires, down at the feet of Jesus, and live holy lives for Him. Accountability for all, yes, but may our thoughts and actions always be founded in love. Jesus in John 15:13-17 lays down the mandate for all who would be disciples, "Love one another". May each one of us carry the mandate to love in all that we think, say, and do.
God bless you all. Thanks for being a part of our church family and I am excited to see how God moves in 2019,