Missions Misunderstood » Blog Archive » Missing the Trees for the Forest

Posted May 28th, 2007 by E. Goodman

Many of our partners come to Western Europe to work alongside us and are overwhelmed by the sin that they see practiced and even glorified in these cultures. Entire segments of the population find their identity in the sin that characterizes their lives. For many of our co-workers, it can be overwhelming to see such blatant disregard for all things that pertain to holiness. Recently, one volunteer commented, “Back home, people at least have the decency to try to hide what they’re doing!”

Many well-intentioned church planters and evangelists become so distracted by the sin around them, that they lose sight of the people. Their message changes from “Good news! There is hope in Jesus!” to the familiar “Bad news! You’re going to hell, sinner!” Of course, they’re right. Sin separates us from the Creator. Repentance is the vital response to salvation. I can see how it could be tempting to focus on preaching against sin.

But lost people don’t need to stop sinning. They need Jesus. In fact, without Jesus, lost people are incapable of curbing their appetites for sin. They are slaves to it. At best, they could learn to exchange the unacceptable sin in their lives for the hidden, “hey, nobody’s perfect” kind that is more acceptable in Christian circles. Sin is in our nature. It is the jail cell we’re all born into. The only escape is new life in Christ.

Besides, even if unbelievers could (they can’t) modify their behavior to match (outwardly, at least) a lifestyle becoming of a Christian, it wouldn’t matter. Not sinning doesn’t get us any closer to salvation. Why then, would we ever focus on people’s sin? Why would we exchange the message of redemption for one of condemnation? Why would we act as though it was our job to convict people of sin?

Filed under:People, Sin, The Gospel