“Do you believe homosexuality is a sin?” In response to my recent article, there it was in my inbox, an obvious and much anticipated question. It sat there staring back at me surrounded by loads of other messages, all expressing thanks for my vulnerable sharing, with some divulging very raw confessions of their own. Is it time that I make a Bible-based decree? Was this the reason and purpose for which I had bared my heart to all?
Long before I wrote Formerly Homophobic, I’ve frequently thought long and hard about whether or not I should make a statement on the gay issue which is all the rage today. After all, I am a Christian minister. More and more new people are walking into my small church every week, and my online readership continues to grow rapidly. Naturally, some are curious as to what I think, and I don’t fault them. Along with this, many are looking to copy and post something relevant to their social media walls. So, what should I do? Is it time to make a definitive decree? For insight on this quandary I went to the “best Christian minister” I could think of—Jesus.
Though he didn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, he was often goaded by religious leaders to publicly weigh in on a variety of culture-war topics. However, as you well know, he frequently declined and opted to keep the conversation intimate between he and those who were giving the religious leaders so much heartburn! But, when the debate between church and society got so hot that the topics could no longer be avoided, Jesus often addressed the issues by challenging people to take a look at their own hearts, rather than their neighbor’s heart—i.e. anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, enemies, etc. This approach was not exactly what either side was necessarily looking for, but his words struck true then, and still do to this day. Albeit, not without continuing to solicit the same wild range of responses.
Time to weigh in…
Due to Jesus’ methods and associations, he was always vulnerable to criticism, often being called a “friend of sinners.” At the time, this was obviously meant as a slight, something by which to discredit him in the public eye. However, the insult eventually had the opposite effect, prompting the same phrase to be used today as a badge of praise—whether or not the proud bearers have actually employed Jesus’ methods and gained the same level of trust with his type of associates. Sadly, many of the same debates in Jesus’ day still rage on today (similar topics and a few additional ones), with opposing sides employing many of the same destructive tactics. Scads of people are still sizing up their neighbors, trying to determine if they are friend or foe. While fewer are turning inward and opening up about their own struggles and contradictions, refusing to force their brothers and sisters to be an ally or enemy.
So, for my many friends sitting to my far right at God’s table of amazing grace, I love you—I really do. However, I’m not your spokesperson (and I’m sure you’re not asking me to be either). And for my dear friends sitting far left of me at the same table, you know I love you—I really do. But, I’m not your spokesman either (you already have plenty of capable spokespeople). If it’s ok with all of you, I will continue to remain your interesting friend—a friend who will always be up for some great conversation and heart-to-heart sharing. Though I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable, I will continue to confess my own raw struggles and shortcomings, without making an issue of yours. And one more thing: I’ll most likely be the one who occasionally brings a guest to the dinner table who is likely to cause heartburn. Don’t worry; I’ll be sure to bring TUMS to pass around.
Kitchen Help Needed!
In the end, I’m going to keep bringing people to the table and leave it up to God to decide who he wants to serve up his amazing grace to. You see, I learned a long time ago, though I am a minister I am not the sacred designated keeper of God’s rich delicacies. At best, I’M SIMPLY THE INVITING PLATE resting under the divine meal God has lovingly prepared. Aren’t we all? And, if my heartburn-inducing dinner guests need to pick this plate up and carry me into the kitchen to eat, I’m cool with that. After all, when Jesus turned the water into wine, none of the wedding guests had a clue as to what he had just done. ONLY THE WATER JUGS AND KITCHEN HELP WERE PRIVY to the truly amazing grace present. By this reasoning, I feel I’m right where I need to be in order to experience God’s amazing grace firsthand, and so are you my dear friends… yes, so are you.
Therefore, to one and all from right-to-left and left-to-right, I want to say thank you for being my friend. You enrich my life, and cause me to rediscover the miracle of God’s matchless grace again and again and again. And, I want to say a huge THANK YOU TO JESUS whom I keep bumping into… in the kitchen of all places!