The smoke from the SCOTUS is clearing, our Women’s soccer team has World Cup status and the White House is white again. Will life here ever be the same? I wrote my blog about the SCOTUS verdict and went back to doing ministry. I run a pretty non-political ministry to men who desire to walk away from their gay lives. We don’t picket with Westboro or hang out at gay pride parades apologizing for every misspoken, misinterpreted word the church has uttered since the dawn of man. We answer phones and emails and pray for people in the gay community to have a personal encounter with Jesus. At Big Fish Ministry, we’ve decided to serve the gay community by storming the coffee shops not the courthouses.
I attend Illuminate Church. This past Sunday, Pastor Ed preached on Peace. It wasn’t a feel good message, but it was freakin’ awesome. I found myself under the same, moral microscope many Christians use on the rest of the world. Lately, God has been leading me to change my approach to the conversation of homosexuality. He is challenging me to enter the discussion at a different level than the world expects from Christians; promoting a dialogue of redemption, rather than accusation. Pastor Ed’s message confirmed God’s leading. “If you can’t bring peace to a situation,” he said, “then maybe you should take yourself out of the situation.” Thumper, of Disney’s Bambi has this to say: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” A paraphrase of author and speaker Bob Hamp says ‘we need to be thoughtful before adding our voice to the noise.’ As Christians what we say about homosexual sin may be 100% scripturally true, but sharing the message like 100% Jerks, allows our bad attitude, not the love of Jesus, to be what people remember.
Growing up, I was “the good son”; the rule follower. I often did “the right thing” to avoid punishment and gain praise, rather than to simply be obedient. I was doing the right thing for the wrong reason. This skewed obedience gave rise to a “holier than thou” attitude. I secretly resented the rules, but I was afraid to break them. I developed a jealousy and resentment for the “rule breaker” closest to me, my brother. My desire to partake in adventure with the rule breakers was far outweighed by the expectation to “follow the rules”. Later in life, my allegiance to “rightness” would cause me to erect impenetrable walls of scriptural TRUTH between those lost in sin and God’s GRACE. I see now that my “good” intentions served to keep people from Jesus rather than lead them to Him. God often reminds of this: God’s grace was the lens through which I first glimpsed the truth of Jesus love for me.
Someone once said that Truth and Grace are like the wings of a bird. Acting in tandem they take the bird to the highest heights. Take one away and the bird will never leave the ground.
A friend who wasn’t particularly pleased with my calm response to the legalization of gay marriage frantically posed the question, “What if the government tries to shutdown your ministry and tells you that you can’t say that homosexuality is a sin.” My answer was simple.
“I guess I’ll just tell people about Jesus then. And when that is deemed illegal, I’ll start a prison ministry.” My answer, tinged with sarcasm and truth, is devoid of panic and steeped in reality. If you stick your hand in a piranha’s mouth and are surprised when they bite you, that isn’t the piranha’s fault pumpkin. God is not surprised that “the lost” are acting…well…lost. We shouldn’t be either. What we should be doing is preparing for the day when everything our unsaved friends have turned to for answers, denies them the rapture they seek. If we have loved them well, they’ll be more apt to listen to the truth about Jesus, than if we had tried to force feed them “God” when their appetite was for something a little more devilish.
I could let every bad political decision turn me into that red-faced, angry guy with the veiny forehead, and bad attitude. Will that ever communicate the heart of Jesus? Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. Peter cut off a man’s ear with his sword. What is a better way to further God’s kingdom: humbly serving or wielding a sword?
One of my neighbor’s yards was looking a little Oscar the Grouch-ish: green, disheveled and angry. She was going through “SOME STUFF”. I texted, to see if we could mow her lawn. She said “Yes”. When she answered her door, gratitude and exhaustion were equally palpable. “These other neighbors should be ashamed of themselves. You’re the first one who has even bothered to call in six months.” Some people had called the HOA and Code Enforcement to report her unkempt yard. Not one neighbor had called to check on her. Instead of choosing to serve, they chose to wield their swords to insure her compliance, rather than their lawnmowers to restore her dignity.
A few days later she texted that our one simple act of service had caused a ripple effect. Her self-esteem had returned. She wasn’t embarrassed to play in the yard with her kids. Her desire to connect with God returned. A family member showed up to help, after feeling so convicted because someone outside the family helped and they had not. In the end, Christopher and I, simply stepped up to kneel down and extend a hand beyond the mess to the person buried beneath the rubble.
My mom was always fond of combatting my poopy attitudes with “you get more flies with honey than you do with buttermilk”. She also said, “make sure the words you say today are soft. You might be eating them tomorrow”. My dad was the chief engineer of the rescue operation that traversed the borders of Hell in order to bring me back to the land of the living. My dad prayed daily for me, even when I didn’t want it. He reached out to me in love, even when I was a hot, vitriolic mess. My father served as a missionary to the gay community by simply loving me unconditionally. He started a fire in me for the gay community that God later confirmed with Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”.
The Holy Spirit is leading me to approach the conversation on homosexuality from a redemptive perspective. Like my father, I am choosing to humbly engage the lost, the broken and wounded men and women of the gay community. Always remembering that my past bears a striking resemblance to their daily existence.
The only hope for either of us is Jesus. Simply. Beautifully. Jesus.