After what I wrote in my last blog post about Vicki Beeching, I think i need to provide some context for it. Over the last several months, God has been working on me about the attitude I hold towards people – in particular, LGBT people. This wasn’t a place I had any intention of going since I, like many people I know in the church, generally don’t know too many of them.
The question was, if Jesus was physically on earth, what would His reaction be to someone who was gay? Would he avoid them, walk on the other side of the road, fear them? No, He would probably found eating with them, in their houses, and still probably be called “a friend of sinners.” What if the person in question was a christian that had struggled all their life with same-sex attraction, and were known in the church? We seem to be comfortable that as long as they hide who they are and present an “everything’s fine” facade, then we’re ok. But if they find that not being honest with themselves is killing them, and they decide to tell people what’s going on inside, then our reaction seems to be one of judgement, dismay or fear. I do not believe Jesus would act in such a way.
I don’t say this to minimize the existence of sin or the effect of sin. In every form, it drives us away from our heavenly Father, and is the outworking of the enemy’s desire to destroy God’s creation and God’s children. It is so bad, that the final remedy for sin was Jesus taking it all on himself so that we might live. That is the good news! When we read the gospels, we can see that Jesus knew exactly what He was about, and where things were going. He accepted the cup prepared for Him so that we might live. It was the only way. In doing this, Jesus removed the ultimate obstacle to us running with Him and finishing the race.
We also see that when Jesus interacted with people, he was gentle, kind and drew them to himself, The bible says of Him, “a bruised reed He will not break.” Jesus loved and still loves people. The only people Jesus criticized were the teachers of the law, who had an excellent knowledge of scripture, but used it as a hammer to further their own agendas or control people.
When we understand that God loves us and is drawing us to himself, we become free to run to him and receive all He has for us. As we grow closer to Him, He changes and transforms us, all our problems, issues and sins get washed away in the water of His love – not ignored, but dealt with in the way He chooses to deal with them.
Every one of us is complex, and some of the issues in our lives cannot be solved by a quick prayer. They may take our entire lives to deal with, and maybe not even be dealt with by the time we die. The path He walks us on is complex, and we can experience many ups and downs, but because God knows what He is doing, He is not dismayed by setbacks. In fact, what may seem like a setback maybe the thing that God uses to work out greater healing in our lives. The last thing He needs is for someone to come along and drive a wedge between us and Him
In my last post I deliberately chose not to focus on the sin aspect of things, not because I wanted to ignore it, but because I wanted to focus on our reactions to people. Dealing with sin and its effects on our lives is exactly what the Father’s salvation is all about. I was writing about my attitude towards people, even about people who struggle with things that I do not. Jesus does not call me to judge, He calls me to love people. For some reason, at this time, He wants to increase that capability in me. He’s showing me that He wants my posture towards people to be more like that of Jesus and less like that of the accuser. I can do that because I know God is more aware of sin and its effects than I am, and that He is the one who knows how to rescue and deliver. Secure in that knowledge, I become free to love. I would hope that as people come to know me and understand that I really care about them, I might get the opportunity to be used by God to bring some measure of healing into their lives.
I recently read an excellent book called “Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians within the Church”, by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter, the executive director of New Direction. In the introduction of her book, she writes,
She also says,
This is why I wrote what I did about Vicky Beeching. She had the courage to be open and honest about who she is – not hide it and pretend everything is rosy’ This is called integrity.
Wendy said that early on, she had a vision that New Direction could be a “bridge” between the gay community and the church. We need more bridges so people can cross over.