“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
A few years ago, I went to a Discipleship Training School with YWAM. It’s six-month-long program aimed at missions work and spiritual formation specifically out of a more charismatic stream of Christianity. One of their biggest teachings was from John 10:10, teaching that you can always recognize the work of the Devil by his fruits – the works of the Devil steal, kill, and destroy, and the fruits of Christ is life. Like, not just spiritual life, but literal life as well. The DTS equipped me well, and the things I learned (and continue to learn) from their teachings are invaluable. They didn’t quite serve their purpose though – during the trip, I learned that I don’t have a specific call to missions, and certainly do have a call to the university I currently attend.
However, this teaching about fruit – that Satan steals, kills, and destroys, and that Christ restores, revives, and protects – has stuck with me as the most accurate barometer for understanding Christian ministry. And today I have a question for my fellow evangelical Christians.
I’m not a theologian. I’m not qualified to discuss the correct hermeneutic paradigm for interpreting so-called “clobber passages” in the Bible specifically denouncing homosexual sexual activity. Funny that I’m saying that, since as an honors student, you’d expect me to be more proud about it. But let’s be honest. I’m an undergraduate student whose emphasis is nowhere near theology.
I’m not a theologian, but I do know that a good tree cannot bear bad fruits, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruits. And currently, the fruits of the common stances about homosexuality and other LGBT+ issues is not life, and life abundantly. It is condemnation, it is death, it is pain and suffering.
It’s time for us as Christians to get our heads out of the sand. However much we might declare “love the sin, hate the sinner;” we have never listened to the people we claim to “love.” We do not credit their stories of emotional abuse, abandonment, familial rejection, bullying, physical assault (the list could go on) as having anything to do with what we teach as a church to a nation with a 78% Christian population. Oh no, that’s just the result of loving the sinner and hating the sin.
This is not life. This does not bear the marks that we know, as Christians, show up when the things we do are from truth, from love, from God.
I can’t say what the right teaching in. But I do know that we are doing things horribly, horribly wrong. And unless the evangelical church as a whole recognizes this, we will continue to sin against our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as all Image-Bearers in our words, thoughts, and deeds concerning these issues.
The first step is to admit you have a problem.
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”