Anonymous asked: At my church the other day an elder said, in regards to unbelievers, “We want to make them feel guilty so they realize they need a Savior.” To which my guts reacted by recoiling and everything inside me was screaming, ”no!”. But then I wondered if that was just me reacting emotionally. I know the Bible talks about freedom from guilt for believers. So do we want them to feel guilty? Whats the Bible say?
Unka Glen answered: Go with your gut. When your conscience reacts that strongly, and it lines up with scripture, then it’s time to move on.
If you like, on your way out, you can kick this elder in the shins, and tell him that you’re testing his theory, to see if making people feel worse is a good way of helping people realize that they need God. He can pray for healing, and to be forgiving towards you, and everything. Super holy stuff there.
In fairness to this elder, he is simply hasn’t been taught, well, anything about ministry. And it has to be said that lately there’s been a lot of talk about constantly reinforcing a condemnation of sin, with the assumption, I guess, that people have no clue what the Bible might say on the subject.
As for what verse these people are mis-interpreting, I’m guessing it’s this one: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
Sounds like the problem is people “loving darkness”, so what does Jesus mean by darkness? This elder thinks loving darkness is about non-believers loving sin. But lets look at the context of that verse, and see if he’s right.
Well, this quote is actually part of a conversation Jesus is having with Nicodemus, who was both a believer in God, and a Pharisee. The Pharisees were, if anything, hyper-religious. Accusing them of loving their sinful lifestyle because of their lack of religion wouldn’t have made any sense at all.
But the meaning is clear from the context, Jesus tells Nicodemus that “you don’t understand these things” and that “you people do not accept our testimony”. Jesus is saying that they are clueless, blind, and in darkness to the larger realities right in front of them.
Jesus is saying these religious leaders stumble around in the dark because they think they know everything, and they love that dark blindness because it feels good to think everything you do is right. Moreover, they didn’t want Jesus to expose the fact that they had no love for the lost, and no real connection or devotion to God, only to religion.
In short, this verse isn’t condemning non-believers, it’s condemning religious leaders like this elder. Jesus actually harshly rebukes religious leaders who “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Mat.23:4).
Jesus Himself makes all this clear in the same conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus said, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him”.