We’ve all done it. We look at someone whose sins are different from ours and say, “Well, at least I’m not like them.” We compare ourselves with others without even thinking about it. At least we aren’t homosexuals. At least we aren’t murderers. At least we aren’t adulterers. And the list goes on. It’s our tendency to exclude those whose sins are public and obvious.
1 John 5:1 reads, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” We tend to ignore the “everyone” in this passage. After all, no one who was a homosexual or murderer or adulterer could possibly believe that Jesus is the Christ. None of those people could possibly have been born of God.
The next verse reads, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” What are his commandments? He gave us two simple ones in Luke 10:27. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” When we think about this verse in the context of how we exclude others, it becomes clear that we are quite as sinful as those whose sins are public and obvious. If we are not showing God’s love to our neighbors, no matter who our neighbors might be, we are sinning.
The gift of faith in God is not exclusionary. We should not assume that our neighbor cannot be born of God because of their sin. If that were the case, we would also be excluded! John says that everyone who believes has been born of God. He does not say everyone who has never committed these taboo sins – he simply says, everyone.
God extends his healing hand to everyone, because everyone needs his forgiveness. We are no different from our neighbors who are homosexuals and murderers and adulterers. We need God’s forgiveness quite as much as they do. Because God includes them, we also ought to include them. That is not to say that we should accept their sins, just as we shouldn’t accept our own sins. Rather, it is to say that they are our neighbors, and we should love them and be witnesses of God’s love to them. For they, too, can be born of him.