You guys, I want nothing more than to honor God. Like seriously, I want to live a life that says, “You’re awesome and Your will be done, because You totally know what’s up.” And sometimes that desire means that when it comes to the controversies within the church – the body of Christ that I call family and call home – I wrestle with them. Like seriously, seriously wrestle.
Why? Because on every side of any controversy is usually a lot of real people who are also trying to live out a life that says, “You’re awesome, God, and Your will be done.” I’m not saying we don’t have our haters or our wolves in sheep’s clothing. But the more time I spend in the church, the more I realize most of us are just trying to live out lives worthy of our calling.
So that desire to honestly honor God in every single little thing that I do and to love the church as Christ does – a desire I can’t live up to as a human being, but something that God can use to shape and mold me into a better disciple in my time on earth – means when things like the World Vision controversy happen over the decision to hire or not to hire married gay Christians, the hubster and I are willing to stay up late in the night, whispering about it past bedtime and talking about what it means to follow Christ when there are sometimes so many questions and so few answers.
And while I’ll be the first to admit I’m far from perfect when it comes to following our Lord and Savior into real life, there were three things my heart and mind kept landing on. When my friend Cara wrote about the issue on Friday, they all came to mind and then I thought why not share this here with you as well.
1. When Jesus chose to illustrate what it is to love our neighbor, He illustrated it with a Samaritan man. A man who was considered “unclean” by the Jewish people of Jesus’ day – much like many would view gay Christians today. And in doing so, Jesus made a pretty stark point to everyone who was listening: He’s less concerned about who’s doing the feeding, and bandaging, and caring and loving of their neighbor and more concerned about the fact that it’s getting done.
2. Before Jesus was crucified, He made a very clear commandment: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35). I’m not taking away the importance of doctrine and wrestling with what that looks like, but it’s clear there’s a bottom line from God: our job is to act in love. It seems unlikely then, regardless of whatever personal thoughts and feelings we entertain – and I’m not taking away from personal thoughts and feelings – that given this verse and Jesus’ use of a Samaritan man as the example of loving our neighbor and the fact that He recruited even disliked members of society to be part of His crew, that God would place the same barriers to gay Christians serving in ministry organizations as we often do.
3. The very verse we quote when we’re talking about these kinds of things (“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”) has a critical piece that we often leave out: “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT)
And isn’t that the truth and the good news right there? Some of us, probably most of us, were once like that. People who did things selfishly and with cruelty and to fill our ugly desires. But we’ve been cleansed and even made holy in the sight of God by calling on Jesus’ name. And now God asks of us one thing: love each other like I’ve loved you.
The MSG translation says it like this and has a lot to add about the context this may have been written in: “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (MSG)
Friends, I don’t know where you fall on this issue and I hope you can hear my thoughts on this with love and know they don’t come from a place of condemnation or judgement or even a desire to argue so much as to consider what it is to follow Christ and to wrestle with that with you.
I heard an amazing entrepreneur speak last weekend, and during her presentation she stopped to say, “We don’t save people. We have a Savior and that’s His job. But we partner with them in life transformation.” And isn’t it the truth? When it comes to doing the saving, that’s always been God’s role through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. But our job has also been made very clear: we come together in the name of Jesus and we walk with each other toward life transformation. Feeding, caring, bandaging, and loving in His name.
Original image of bread by mconnors from morguefile.com. Edited by Kim Fernando.