|It's good to share good things! :-)|
Finally, my last post for (hopefully) a long time on this subject (although I have a sneaking suspicion there may be a part 5...). I have covered pretty much all I want covered as well as I can. I hope it has been useful for any who have read it. If you disagree with me on anything, feel free to contact me and let's hash out what needs to be hashed. I am always open to any discussion, as long as you respect the use of Scripture and the search for truth.
Oddly enough, this could be my most "controversial" post on this subject yet. I actually don't think it is all that controversial, but I do hope it causes us to really think and consider what the right actions for the church to take are. If you have any doubts about where I stand on this subject, I do ask that you read parts one, two, and three before making any judgments. This post stems from those.
Today we talk about the importance of love, and its place in the church in regards to homosexuality. Last week I made a short list of do's and do not's in regards to when visitors, practicing homosexuality or not, come into the church. This post is the practical application of that tiny list. I did a little bit of looking, and while there is a lot of "theory" and personal anecdotes, there does not seem to be a lot of discussion on the practical side of things. Also please note - this article is about visitors and outsiders to the church, so please keep that in mind as you read.
The unfortunate thing about the homosexuality debate is that it has ended up in a place where words say one thing and actions show another. Now I realize I am using a broad brush here, but I believe it is applicable. So often people say "well, its just a sin like any other sin and needs to be dealt with." This is true and correct. However, all too often actions and attitudes seem to speak that this sin is worse and more infectious than others, and if it is not taken care of immediately it will cause worse problems.
This is where we need to understand that things do not happen in a vacuum. Our hearts and words want to do the right thing, but our fears and emotions want us to do another. This is not without cause. One of the casualties of the culture wars has been common sense.on both sides. There is a permeating sense that if one inch is given a mile will be taken, and everything will fall off a cliff. I believe this is the reason why it makes people so nervous when we talk about how to handle things when homosexuals come into the church. On one hand we (rightly) want to protect the faith and especially those who are young in it. On the other hand we (rightly) want to show Jesus' love and grace to all. It is in the application of both these needs that we find our difficulty.
So I am going to throw some situations and ideas out there, because the conversation has to start somewhere, and plans need to be made in advance how the church will respond when people come into the church looking for what only God can give. Please note: this is not an exhaustive list. These are just some situations that the church may find itself in that great good can come through if handled properly. This is only a conversation starter, not the end-all be-all.
1) A openly gay man or woman come to church.
Just like every other person, please make sure to welcome them warmly and openly. If they are searching for God, what better place to do it than along with God's people? We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. If we can truly help them to see Jesus, there is a good chance they will come back so they can start to get to know Him. We are the ambassadors of Christ. What is seen is us is how they will view Him.
2) A gay couple comes to church.
This is where I think people will start to get tripped up, so let me just answer: yes, invite them to the potluck. And the movie night. And dinner at your home. And all the other activities. This will be very uncomfortable for some people. Actually, it will probably be very uncomfortable for a lot of people.
But guess what? Jesus didn't call us to a comfortable life. He called us to His life. His, where He ate with prostitutes and sinners and tax collectors. His, where he went to the poorest and most broken of society. His, where he made His relationships with the outcast and the sick and the weary. Where He showed them His light and healed their wounds and then called them to follow Him. We should follow the same pattern: show His light, bring them to be healed, and then call them to follow, giving up all for the name of Jesus, just as we are to do.
3) A state-married gay couple with kids comes to church.
If you thought the last one was difficult, here is the final big one. Remember, we are not talking about Christians coming in and trying to force your change, we are talking about those outside of Christ who come into the church looking for the Savior. Now yes, there may be those just looking for trouble, but there will be plenty who are honestly searching. We are to be Christ to all people, not just the ones who like us.
So yes, invite them to the potluck, your home for dinner, the family night, etc. Do your best to build a relationship because they need Christ too. Get to know them and what they do and what they like because you will plant seeds of either love or disgust for Jesus. Plant the ones that can grow into a soul-saving faith. Understand that they will be called to give up enormously in order to follow Christ. It will not be easy, fun or simple, and we need to understand what it will mean for them to have to figure out how things will work in the future.
In all cases where those outside of Christ come into the church, our goal is to (in this order) 1) introduce them to Christ, 2) get them to love Christ and His church, and 3) help them to pay whatever price it takes to follow the One True Savior. This will (probably) not happen overnight or even over a month. It may take years. But we cannot give up because Christ did not give up. Whether it is a single mom, a pregnant teen, or a homosexual couple, we will not, we cannot, give up on bringing them to Christ. His will is all that matters. We are to be gentle and generous with all sinners, not just the ones we are most comfortable with.
This is the importance and goal of love: to show Christ's light and love to a broken and sinful world with patience, kindness and charity. To stand firm on the foundation of belief that Christ has set forth while at the same time not dashing the lost to pieces upon it, but bringing them gently before the Savior so that He can have His way with them.
To follow Christ we must give up all. This includes our fears, our worries and our doubts. This means being uncomfortable when needed, and taking joy that we can be used as tools of the Savior. Let us have love, generosity and charity in all things, so that we may reach all who are seeking Christ.
We are those who follow Christ the Risen King.
Let us show it.