The chapter on Koop in Yancy’s book Soul Survivor was probably one of the most applicable to my own situation. This is due both to my being part of the “medical” community by profession as well as being married to a physician who by virtue of his place within the medical ranks as a Public Health doctor, Family Physician and Addictionist, has opportunity to come out with statements of his own about many of the same issues.
We have attempted to live our lives, like Koop, with integrity. We have tried to be people who could be trusted to be who we appear to be – not being Christians only when we travel in Christian circles. Maybe, in reality, it has been easier to openly live out our Christianity more easily among our non-Christian friends than to be honest about our weaknesses in front of our Christian friends.
Non-Christians, once they become aware of our faith, seem to be relatively comfortable with it. They may not agree with or understand our stand on issues, but they do not think we are immoral because of them. They respect our right to have different opinions than they do. Christians, on the other hand, can get very nasty when faced with opinions that differ from what they have been taught to believe, even if the issue at hand is not critical to faith.
Yancy quotes one person as saying, “I’ve noticed that Christians tend to get very angry toward others who sin differently than they do.” He goes on to say: “The only hope for any of us, regardless of our particular sins, lies in a ruthless trust in a God who inexplicably loves sinners, including those who sin differently than we do.”
Acknowledging that we ourselves have sinned and are totally dependent on the grace of God is, I believe, a necessary requirement for receiving the forgiveness for those sins. No sin is “better” than another. They all cost God the sacrifice of his blameless son. And we need to remember that if we think of ourselves more highly than others who happen to be caught in their sin, we are, right there, caught in the act of sinning ourselves. I am amazed that we dare to be so critical of each other.
It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the debtor who was forgiven the millions he could never repay and then as he goes out encounters the person who owes him a few dollars. This man, who has just been freed from his own debt, can’t extend the same grace to another. And the result? He loses the pardon that was extended to him. Shouldn’t this parable tell us something about what God expects of us?