Lead and Live with Embrace

I heard the line – Hate the sin, love the sinner. It’s a good slogan, but many don’t come to pass the line hate the sin. We hear people talking about their views and standing on something in whatever social issues we face. Many opposing camps use different Scriptures to back up their convictions among Christians.

It has personally happened to me. So many people ask about my view and my stand as a pastor regarding social issues like human rights, medical marijuana, extrajudicial killings, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, women in ministry, speaking in tongues, and the list goes on. All these issues, when you answer, will create an avalanche of positive and hate-filled reactions from readers. It seems like one of the ways not to get caught in the heat of other people’s emotions on opinions is to keep your judgment to yourself.

But I think there is a better way to lead and live – and that is to get involved. When the drug killings were happening, people asked us what our stand was. Personally, it doesn’t matter what my public position was. My action was more important than my public stand on things. Our theological convictions should move us to compassionate action.

I remember thirty people in our church partnered with the local government of our city to meet the drug surrenderees for 16 weeks straight – no salary, no food allowance. It was showing Christlike love and compassion for the people society has rejected and given up on. Through the program, we got to know their names and family members.

It was emotional for some because one of the people we led to Christ was shot to death a few days after receiving Christ.

Our stand as a church was to lead and live with an embrace. The stats presented in the news might have disturbed us, but hearing the stories from the ground and giving them the love of Christ was redemptive.

Debra Hirsch said, “When we lead with our theological stand, we get caught up in the “wrongness” of some people’s behavior, and the person’s humanness is easily lost.”

For some in the Christian world, the debate is whether women should preach or not. I think there is no substantial evidence on both camps. Both camps have been debating for decades. And while everybody is discussing, I see our women campus missionaries leading and loving the flock of unchurched students to Christ every week. On the other hand, one of my friends in China said that a woman preacher in her 80s has been traveling for weeks climbing up the mountain to pastor a church where no missionary organization dares to go. I don’t think I have a solid theological answer for that case in China.

When we lead with our “theology,” we lose sight of the opportunities to let the gospel take effect in the lives of those who need it the most. (I think this is still a theological conversation that needs to happen) at the same time, I cannot wait for everyone to agree on what is and what is not when the opportunity to reach the lost is urgent and vital.

We have to be careful to formulate our theological position without any real contact or understanding of the very people it has been formulated about. Theology must be worked out in the robustness of human relationships, with all the love, pain, angst that accompanies them. – Debra Hirsch

So if you ask for my stand – for now, it’s clear – I live and lead with embrace the same way Christ embraced me when I was at my worst (Romans 5:8)

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