Now we get to a really great question I wish more people were asking:
Wait, that’s not it. Oh yeah, how do we attract seekers without watering-down and truncating the Gospel?
(I should add to my response that sometimes offending seekers is inevitable; the Gospel is tough pill to swallow, even for believers! We don’t like conviction either; at least, I know I don’t, not at first. And you never know; you could be the ‘at first’ for the seeker you’ve turned off though a seed was planted.)
Note: Content in brackets are additions for this post. (I just might be addicted to hyperlinking.)
I would have to agree on changing how we love and truly accept. We just need to stand up for what’s right but still love those around us. But how do we bring people into the church and stand up for what we believe in without turning against those people we are seeking out and making them feel condemned?
That is an excellent question. Two things come to mind. Firstly, God always meets us in the middle. For example, when I first read the OT laws as a young teenager, especially the ones regarding issues like rape or slavery, I found God absolutely maddening, barbaric even: Pay the father 40 bucks and marry her? What the hell kind of justice is that? You’re God for crying out loud! Can’t you do better than that? Later [thanks to first touches from PBC and DBU, and then most clearly at L’Abri] when I looked at the whole picture and understood how much of a step those laws were for the people toward redemption, I realized it was quite revolutionary considering where they were coming from [again, Webb’s Slaves, Women & Homosexuals was essential to my understanding of this kind of hermeneutic of redemption].
God is in the habit of meeting us where we are and helping us along step-by-step, putting us on a path toward redemption. He doesn’t require that we clean our lives up before we come to him. He doesn’t even require that we get everything sparkly clean immediately after we come to him. Hebrews 10:10-14, another favorite of mine, notes that we both have been made perfect (through Christ’s atonement–salvation) and at the same time are being made perfect (through the continued work of Christ’s redemption through the Holy Spirit–sanctification). And it’s the being made perfect part which is the focus of this life on earth. As we follow God, we do the same for others: graciously, patiently guiding others toward the path of the Gospel, the path of being made perfect, or whole, complete. We don’t demand they get their life together all at once, even the “major stuff” like sex. Often, the stronger hold a sin has in our lives, the longer it takes to let go of it, or even see that we need to let go of it; it usually takes years. We have to be prepared to be that patient–like God is with us.
Secondly, it’s important to remember that each person and situation is different. Meeting people where they are and graciously pointing them toward life won’t work in a one-size-fits-all way (like stock responses do, which is why they don’t work). If we continue in the Mt 10 passage, Jesus goes on to tell his disciples not to worry about what to say or not say; the Holy Spirit will be with them. And as you say, we aren’t perfect, so we need to give ourselves grace too, meet ourselves in the middle so to speak. Christianity is more about making right what we’ve made wrong than it is about “getting it right.”
Love to you, friend. Keep asking these kinds of questions.