Want to get a lot of “Amens” or “Likes”? Topics like abortion and same-sex marriage will usually do the trick. After all, these are issues that Christians can agree on and shout out God’s disdain to the world. In many congregations, Christians will give affirmative nods to even more “controversial” topics like drinking alcohol or smoking. Occasionally, a preacher or author will sprinkle in an article about adultery or parenting. But at the end of the day, these are all topics that Christians are—for the most part—very comfortable with. They don’t step on our toes, and they are topics we can share and keep circulating for our own “friend” lists.
My fear is we’ve become too comfortable—and deep down we are not striving to be holy like He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Instead, we remain comfortable and decry the hideousness of abortion. We wring our hands and shake our heads at things like same-sex marriage or gender-neutral bathrooms. But what about the sins that are “closer home” to most Christians?
When is the last time you’ve truly contemplated your own pride (Proverbs 29:23; Galatians 6:3; James 4:6; Proverbs 16:18)? Or how about greed (1 Timothy 6:9-10; Proverbs 28:25; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)? Or how about gossip (Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 16:28)? Or what about lying (Proverbs 6:16-19; Proverbs 12:22; Colossians 3:9-10)? Or maybe your sin is gluttony (Philippians 3:19; Proverbs 23:20-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Or maybe you have a problem with lust (Matthew 5:28; Galatians 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)? Or maybe you have a problem anger or stirring up strife (Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 6:16-19)? Or maybe your struggle is hypocrisy (Matthew 6:1; James 1:26). Or how about apathy or indifference (Revelation 3:15-16; Matthew 25:41-46; James 2:15-17). Or maybe you do not treat your spouse the way you should (Ephesians 5:25; 1 Corinthians 7:1-40; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Or what about your lack of evangelism (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20)? This list can go on and on.
To me, these are the real issues that are preventing the average church member from becoming holy. I will never wrestle with the decision to have an abortion. Alcohol is not an issue for me. And I am certainly not going to participate in same-sex marriage. But these other “silent sins” hit a lot closer home, because these are real issues that I confront on a daily basis.
If we are ever going to change the face of the church then we have to be bold enough to acknowledge and repent of these “silent sins.” We have to strive each day to be more holy. We have to stop pointing our finger at others and start examining ourselves. We need to stop comparing ourselves to sinners and start comparing ourselves to a holy God. We won’t get nearly the “Amens” or “likes,” because in many cases we will be stepping on many toes. But the spiritual health of our congregations will certainly be improved. Peter wrote, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” God, my prayer is that You will make us uncomfortable and give us the strength to become more like you!
By Brad Harrub
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