Inclusion (Matthew 21:32)

For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

Matthew 21:32 (NLT)

Jesus was not condoning the lifestyles of tax collectors and prostitutes, but He was making a very important spiritual point. He was addressing the temple priests and elders who supposedly knew God’s Law and how to live a life that honors Him. Instead they eschewed John’s message and chose to follow their own rituals and regulations, in violation of God’s Law. John the Baptist was God’s messenger to prepare hearts to receive the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Yet these religiously pious people rejected John. Meanwhile, tax collectors and prostitutes, people living outwardly sinful lives, listened to John’s message, believed him, and repented of their sins. 

The Church of Jesus Christ is composed of many different souls. We are all at different stages of spiritual development but we all share one thing in common. We are all sinners. Even if we have confessed and repented of our sins and accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we still sin. Some sins, like a pornography addiction, can be concealed, done in the privacy of one’s home. Other sins, like relationships, are more visible, like couples living together out of wedlock. It was not that long ago that interracial marriages were shunned. Are our conceptions of sin out of sync with the reality of the age? Does the Church welcome everyone regardless of their sinful behaviors?

Christian author and theologian Tim Keller wrote, “Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” These are many important issues to consider. I have been in prayer about these issues for many years, carefully searching the Bible, reading many books, and consulting with numerous pastors and godly Christian brothers and sisters for guidance and direction. I have friends and acquaintances who struggle with their sins, secret and in the open, just as I do.

I believe this passage from the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible is a starting point. Jesus Christ welcomed all sinners but He would not accept them unless they repented of their sins and believed in Him. Sin is sin and the definition has not changed in spite of the moral relativism that is pervasive in society. Loving the sinner and not the sin, the Church must welcome all who are truly seeking Jesus Christ. 

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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