Tag: homosexuality

If You Were Truly Conservative, You Wouldn’t Be Anti-Gay

You’ve stared down the aisle of homosexuality, perhaps taken a few steps of examination. It didn’t take long for the reality to overwhelm. The issues are complicated with lots of moving parts. From terms like LGBTQ to issues of biology, from political creeds to long held theology. You’re trying, you really are.

With an inner heartbeat pulsing toward love, if only to be free, yet chained to prescribed understandings of an ancient text, lines drawn by the God of your faith upbringing. At best, you’re now straddling a fence. Who’s right, who’s wrong? Bending and twisting, juxtaposing Grace and truth— two chopsticks in hand, insisting that one must be the fork and the other the spoon. Perhaps, the tension is too much, you’ve insisted on landing—the road most traveled, the familiar path. Determined, that as far as God is loving, He is also condemning of all things LGBTQ. One big mess of sin, a grotesque abomination, some foreign reality to God’s rendering that requires transformation. Not just a fork, not just spoon, but a knife, declaring gay doom.

Where you are is where you are, not going to debate that.

But on top of it all, the icing on the cake, you’ve boxed up all your concrete conclusions, wrapped them in black and white paper, and packaged it all as being “conservative.” The genetic codes of your believism, your safe and sure home base. Declaring the inside scoop to a sacred text, years of ecclesial tradition. Self-proclaimed protectors of Christian values, the clear and plain teachings, not to mention… God-inspiration. This is America, the Jesus-sanctioned nation. “Oh-o-say can you see…”

Keep on singing, why stop there. Not just defining what’s in some “conservative” box, claiming it as your own. But labeling all those outside it, throwing shade from your man-made throne.

The hymns of your condemnation. You’ve made it all so loud and clear. To you, I’m a slippery slope pastor. The rest of us, lost and wayward Christians. Heretical to the nines. We’re all just one of them, those liberals, bending to the sway of culture, watering down, sponging in a bath of perversion. Gently tickling, feathering the ears of all that would listen. To make it feel so good, to feel so easy. Living in the grey, postmodern relativism, all with the agenda, to do Satan’s bidding. Looking down your nose, patting me on the back, hoping one day I’ll graduate from this gay-affirmation. Sometimes with words, other times with silence, you say I’ve sold out a sovereign God, joined a long list of false prophets, blinded by culture’s coercion. I’m just another one of those misguided progressives, who simply can’t handle truth.

Well I don’t know who you think you are, but in my humble opinion, you’re way off base. Quite frankly, not even on the planet. You have no idea, not a clue, the journey I have taken, and that of many others.

So, I sure hope you have your adult diapers on, because here comes the truth. My gay-affirmation didn’t come from smoking some kind of progressive liberality, it actually came from the incense of my deep seeded conservatism.

I love Jesus, the Bible, and truth just as much as any other. It’s out of an ardent, soul stirring quest to get this right, that I have come to this LBGTQ-affirming conclusion.

I’m determined, to conserve the singular essence of God who is love, nothing more, nothing less. While you take your liberalities, dancing far outside the box, making Him into a schizophrenic, condemning monster of multiple personalties. I’m holding fast, staying close and true to His clear delight and hand in all creation. While you take your liberalities, twisting, bending, fabricating God into a human-hating, sin-focused old man, sitting at the edge of heaven’s seat, licking his chops for the moment to show the unrepentant the back of His eternal hand.

I’m determined, to conserve the seriousness of the Bible, its sacredness and divinity. While you take your liberalities, raping it, reducing it into a text that should be understood, in all things, only literally. As if God gave you the Bible as a whore of words with which you can simply have your way. Making it all seem so black and white, so you can control, manipulate, label and sway. Adding words, translations, and meanings, stripping them from their context. Treating the Bible like a three-ring circus, parts that seem to light your enemies on fire, gaining the height of your attention, even the rise of your entertainment.

I refuse to play these religious games, to have my faith spoon fed, joining in lines of religious herds, feeding from the trough of self-righteousness.

I’m determined, to conserve the person of Jesus, the only Word of God, who for the joy set before Him, the entirety of humanity, endured it all. His Gospel of Grace, His message of peace. The goodness, value, acceptance and pleasure He takes in all that He has created. The very One who declared our leather-bound Bibles aren’t our salvation, often reinterpreting long held beliefs, always to the displeasure of the religious.

I’m not going to stand aside while you play eternity games with people’s lives. While you hijack the Gospel with your no-gospel Gospel, and pimp it as life. Making “church” into a club of like-minded people whose greatest spiritual gift is to talk amongst themselves and judge the world. Turning Christianity into a moral play, and you, the holders of the script. Scaling the heights of true liberality, truth twisting, backsliding, all while you’re pointing fingers. Puffed up with arrogance, you call it “conservative,” lifting yourselves as the keepers of all that is God’s intention and will.

Well, I’m not buying it, and countless others are beginning to see behind the curtain. You aren’t a conservative Christian, you are a convenient Christian. Anything to keep power, privilege, and authority— the trinity of your ambition.

Creationism, racism, nationalism, fundamentalism. Homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, all bare the stench of your true liberality, moving so far away from the heart of God, Jesus, and the faith diary of His people. It’s all so convenient.

You are about as truly conservative as crayons taste like their colors. Spiritual shape-shifters, blending into, and making fit, anything that furthers your agenda— the one thing your brand of “conservatism” is good at accomplishing, the conserving of your own religious, self-righteous bigotry. A condemnation in your heart, seated deeper than any scripture.

For if you were truly conservative, you wouldn’t be anti-gay.

You’d stay so close to His nature, His heart, the person of His son Jesus. The thought of moving even just one step from His expanse, the incomprehensible essence of His ways. Seeing His image, his hand in all creation. The science, the biology, the complexity of it all. It would all be enough to give you pause. To stand in one place, on one thing alone… love.

From there, you could not be budged, you could not be moved.

Convinced that God is in all, and that God is good.

He is greater, His love higher, and his affirmation, universe reaching.

Everything His hands have made.

For if you were truly conservative, you wouldn’t be anti-gay.

You’d be like Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Believing in love… all the way.

Christian, Shut Up And Listen Already

I get it, there are a lot of high-volume issues at play in the jukebox of our culture.

Sexuality, immigration, terrorism, politics, economics, war, racism, poverty, abortion. All, filling the airwaves with their sound. Complex voices, ringing around our heads. Stirring our thoughts, twisting our emotions. Reverberating straight to the bottom, rattling the very essence of our souls, forcing the ultimate question…

What does it mean to be Christian?

You want it to calm down, turn down, settle down, make it all go away. What you don’t understand you label as noise. What doesn’t fit your theological playlists, you quickly eject. Cupping your ears, you crank up the volume of familiar hymns. Drowning out, discrediting what doesn’t align. The voices God wants so desperately to speak to your faith, you simply want to subtract.

What you call static, Jesus calls sacred…humanity crying out, if only to be heard.

So much to learn, so much to understand, so much to be gained. This is what learners of Jesus are supposed to do… learn.

Our culture is a concert hall of instruments, each in their own way, crying out with the same longing. A beautiful song. What does it truly look like to be human? To be pleasing to our Maker. Is it being more like this, or more like that. Living this way or living that. Believing more over here, or believing more over there. Each having a melody. If only to be heard.

What you call unconscionable, even unlovable, Jesus calls undeniable, even in-condemnable…humanity crying out, if only to be affirmed.

At the core of every soul is an ancient desire fashioned from the eternal, to love and be loved. To have value, to have worth. Meaning, purpose… beating the beats of our heart. To be alive in our living.  Just… to be… frigging… affirmed.

But you don’t hear it, and you won’t hear it.

Sadly, we Christians suck at learning, even more at listening. We think it’s all about the concluding and the speaking. In our arrogance, we assume we already have what needs to be said, believe it’s our job to say it, and people need to hear it.

Spoiler alert. Christian, nobody gives a damn! You’ve lost your credibility. You’re all talk, no listen.

Licking your chops, unfolding your talking points, “this is what the Bible says.” We play in bands of like-mindedness, creating walls of sound to out-sound opponents. Walled in spiritual neighborhoods of little pink theologies. We Christians are experts at volume; speaking over, drowning out… ideas, creeds, viewpoints… even people.

This is who we have become. Noisy. Mute-button, Christians.

Can you just shut up already? For Christ’s sake… shut up?

You are speaking to be heard rather then listening to become a voice. And therefore, you have no voice that our culture is willing to hear.

When is the last time you sat down, and just listened?

Listened to the journey of a homosexual. The path of one who is transgender. A Muslim’s story. Or that of a mother who had an abortion. Broke bread with one who believes differently. Sat at the feet of a black man, an hispanic women. Dare I ask, maybe even an enemy.

When was the last time, you frigging just listened?

Give me the day, the hour, the minute.

I’m not talking about listening to tolerate, with spiritual eyes rolling in the back of your head. Going through mission-statement motions.

I’m talking about sitting to be transformed. To see Jesus where you believe you will see none.

Is your faith system so weak that you can’t think, reflect, listen, question… even learn, possibly come to a new perspective?

Within the sound of everything you label as noise, are the cries of real people, longing to be heard.

Our culture is listening for our listening, not for our words.

There should never be a voice that needs to force to be heard. Never a person questioning, desperately desperate to be affirmed.

Yet this is what we Christians have created. Hell on earth. A culture, a world, that has to cry, beg, plead… just to be heard, just to be loved, just to be affirmed.

That is the last thing that should be happening where we Christians are near.

Folks, this isn’t a game where the loudest voice wins. In fact, it’s where we listen, and only where we listen, that Jesus begins.

For the every cry of every person has already been heard and answered by Grace. We simply listen and point to the beauty of His face.

It’s that simple.

He is our voice, His Gospel is this… that in Christ, all are unconditionally loved, affirmed, valued, and desired. None are better, only different. Adored, delighted, saved, made whole, in Him.

This is our faith. This is the Kingdom.

It only begins however, when we shut up, and listen.

Christian…

for Christ’s sake…

shhhh, shhh, shh,

shut up…

and listen.

What the Hell Does it Matter to You? Calling Out the Bluff of Anti-Gay Christians

There are obviously a lot of Christians who are anti-gay. Many of which who give little pause to speaking their opposition, being hurtful, and even abusive with their aversion.

For those of us who are not anti-gay, when we think about such people, one of the questions that paces the halls of our brains is, “What the hell does it matter to you?” Why do you care so much, what’s the big hairy deal? Seriously. Is this homosexuality thing really affecting your life? Is this reality in other people’s lives really any of your business?

I find it interesting the reasons many Christians articulate they are anti-gay. The answers are all over the map. As a gay-affirming, homosexual-loving pastor and blogger, I suspect I’ve just about heard it all.

The classic response is that homosexuality is unbiblical and deemed a sin, therefore it’s ultimately an intolerable offense to God and the scriptures. For them, the sacred tenets of Christianity and the authority of the bible are in the balance. Furthermore, if homosexuals don’t repent of their sin and turn away from their homosexuality, they’re going to hell. Others are concerned about homosexuality causing a breakdown of the traditional family structure, especially when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. Some simply see homosexuality as being abnormal and contrary to the nature as God’s design, having an imploding, negative impact on society. Many harbor fears about the influence homosexuality and homosexuals will have in leading their children astray.

Put it all together, in the minds of many a Christian, the world is going to hell in a hand basket and America is tipping the caldron of God’s wrath. The primary cause? Homosexuality.

I know, for a few anti-gay Christians, they are truly wrestling with this issue, its juxtaposition in their faith, and seeking God’s heart in the process. For that, they should be highly commended. Their struggle and genuine heart should never be belittled.

But for the rest, I’m not buying it. I’m not buying it one bit.

Is there a genuine ignorance out there among anti-gay Christians? Absolutely, but most of it is a chosen ignorance. If I had a dime for the number of Christians who comment negatively on my homosexual-themed articles but have clearly never even read them, Donald Trump would be shining my shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve challenged specific Christians to study-out the homosexuality issue for themselves, reading material from authors on the other side of the fence. Do they ever do it? No. Weeks later, when I follow up, “have you read any of the stuff I suggested?” Their answer… “Nope.”

If biblical faithfulness was really the issue regarding homosexuality for anti-gay Christians, we would see these same believers being be far more concerned with obvious scriptural giants like… truly loving your neighbor, feeding the poor, stewarding a dying planet, adopting orphans, to name a few. Which by the way, if only 3% of the world’s self-professed Christians adopted, there would be no more adoptable children in the world. There are far more clear, incontestable biblical references to those issues than the mere six, highly debatable passages in the Bible that are deemed by anti-gay Christians to reference homosexuality.

But they certainly don’t want to hear that. Why? Because, unlike homosexuality, none of those mandates give them a throne to sit upon or an issue to be against. With nothing to appose or a sin in another to justify their own, many anti-gay Christians would be that awkward, pimple-faced kid at the high school dance standing against the gym wall, not having a clue what to do. It’s interesting to me how the interpretive practices of contextualization and studying word origins have become so important when applying the bible to issues like divorce, gluttony, and women in ministry, but not homosexuality. How convenient. It will be a cold day in hell before we see anti-gay Christians standing outside Golden Corral after Sunday morning preaching with signs reading “God Hates Christian Gluttons”.

This whole, I am anti-gay because the Bible says so… I’m not buying it. I’m not buying it one bit.

“Oh, but we don’t want them to go to hell.” Really? You truly expect me to believe there is a genuine spiritual concern from anti-gay Christians that homosexual people are going to hell? Most of the anti-gay Christians I know don’t give much pause to that notion at all, many even being quite at peace with it. Some, even a bit tickled. Furthermore, if they really did care, would they be beating the crap out of them, labeling them, marginalizing them and making the second class citizens of their church, if citizens at all? Does that sound like the strategy that comes out of the heart of a Christian who truly cares about the eternal salvation of a group of people? I think not.

And don’t give me any of this, “homosexuals are stealing my freedoms as an American” crap. At best, this issue may or may not be challenging some of your religious freedoms, but it surely isn’t challenging your freedoms to be Jesus. Maybe it’s just me, but I have this sense that not only would Jesus bake a gay-wedding cake, He’d multiply it and give it to the couple for free. But let’s not let the ways of Jesus get in the way of our religious pouting.

I’m not buying it, I’m not buying it one bit.

“But this homosexual thing is tearing apart the family structure.” Sure, all while your Southern Baptist denomination has a higher divorce rate than Atheists and you’re on your third marriage, with one eye on the secretary. Oh, I know, your divorce was for Biblical reasons. I am sure your “ex” felt so comforted by that, and experienced so much Jesus in that sentiment. How spiritual of you. It just makes it all so nice and good, like a warm, crackling fire on a cold night.

Bullshit, I’m not buying it, I’m not buying it one bit.

“But what about our kids? They are going to take control of our kids. We’re going to lose are kids to the Death Star tractor-beam of homosexuality.” Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Nothing says you truly care about the influence in your kid’s life, like forking out the eighty dollars for their Miley Cyrus tickets, letting them watch R-rated movies and vulgar cartoons, spoiling them with blow-out Christmas’s to celebrate the Jesus who ironically was born to give His life away, teaching them they are the center of the universe as you make their every want and extracurricular activity the center of your universe, instilling in them that the Bible is best memorized, prayer is something you fight to do in school, church is a club with a cross on top, and people who don’t believe the way you do are misguided and maybe even the enemy.

I’m not buying it, I’m not buying it one bit.

The truth is, it’s really not about the Bible, it’s really not about a genuine spiritual care, it’s not about God’s design or the influence of homosexuality, it’s about… control.

Control of the content, comfort, familiarity, protection, and future of the elitist, pristine, starch-pressed, Evangelical brand of institutional Christianity and church that you grew up with and likely participate in now. Control of who gets to determine what is sin and what is not, who’s right and who’s wrong. Control of who’s in and who’s out, who’s deemed as truly spiritual and who’s deemed as truly not. Control of who is seen as a positive force for society, who has the corner market on truth, has more political influence, and who does not. Control, of the acceptance and approval of the people in your life. Control, of the self-condemnation your own sin causes by the clamping down and determining of sin in another’s life.

Control, control, control.

Isn’t that what religion has alway been about… control? Sadly, much of Christianity has become far more about religion than it is about Jesus.

I’m not buying it. I’m not buying it one bit.

Homosexuality. What the hell does is matter to you?

I’m calling out your bluff.

Say what you want, put all the lipstick you can on that pig.

It’s not a biblical care, a people care, a family care, a societal care…

It’s control.

The One Thing Every Parent of a Gay Child Must Know

There is something so uniquely beautiful, spiritual, sacred, and honorable about parenting a gay child.

This, you must know.

Yet, there is also something very heart stirring. This, you surely, already know.

Every range of emotion called to the nerve receptors of the soul. Like the sailing of a small boat atop the depths of the oceans, every wave, gust, blazing heat, chilling rain, all intimately, symbiotically felt in raw detail together, move by move. Wandering through a fog, alone in the silence of night, holding tight through a storm. You never stop hearing or feeling the heartbeat of your children. Irreversibly connected.

A connection birthed from the intimacy infused into all humanity; from the Father to the Son, through the Spirit, into you… entirely. That Jesus lived, died, and is resurrected, His declaration to the world that an At-one-ment has forever occurred. In the doing of His death and resurrected life, He did so not just for humanity but as humanity. God has immersed Himself indistinguishably within you, that you are the presence and the essence of Christ in this world. As He is, so are we.

Yet, this manifestation of Jesus in and as humanity, through your gay child, is a uniquely clear, profound, and powerful force. In them, as them, and through them, their Christ-essence is a special kind of exposure of Jesus to the world. An enlightening of the Light. An unveiling different than any other. This, you must know.

To say that you have been chosen by God to parent Jesus, that you are a modern day Mary and/or Joseph is true, but falls far short of your gay child’s unique significance on this planet and their cosmic revelation of Jesus. For they carry within them and as them, a specialized projection of the pure Gospel. A revelation of Jesus so uniquely radiant that it penetrates, perhaps like no other, through the fortified layers of self-righteousness walled around our religious culture, exposing its adulterous bedding of ignorance, pride, and a religious spirit. A divine x-ray of the Christian world displayed on the light-board of the outcast of the outcasts, revealing its true cancer for all to see… that many worship Him with their lips but their hearts are far, far, far. A Gospel-manifesting so loud, that its trumpet demands a re-hearing and a re-understanding of sacred stances thought to be sure and forever fitting, overturning tables of Evangelical advantage, sending scores of church-world participants into the shadows, murmuring, plotting, and justifying, all while knelt down under the lame protection of their pews.

The Gospel is here, afresh… in your gay child.

So pure, so offensive this Gospel. That to accept Jesus must be to accept all humanity, because He became us… not some… but all of us. And transversely, all have been included in Him, we are His image bearer and life carrier… as is. For whatever you do for the least of these you do it to Him, because He is us, and we are Him.

Your gay child is the Gospel, the Gospel that none are better, only different. All signed, sealed, and delivered. Image-created. The world’s wrestling with your homosexual child is the world wrestling with Jesus. There is nothing wrong with your gay child anymore than there is something wrong with the true, pure Gospel. For they thought in Jesus was a crazed, evil spirit, only to discover He is Love made flesh; the Good News, humanely presented in humanity’s form. For what some think is a stronghold, a physiological abnormality, a psychological deviance, sin, or some bondage in your gay child, is just Jesus made flesh once again. This time, anew. For such a time as this.

And this, you must know.

There are Herods that are licking their chops with an appetite for killing; religious powers, authorities, and alike. You will be persecuted, betrayed, flogged, crucified. But not as one who carries a cross, but one who parents the Gospel.

For as the Light came into the world, and His own received Him not. So too, it is and will be with many a believer and your gay child. Your journey may feel at times like a special kind of hell, but your child is a special kind of heaven.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for you will come in the echoing of your child’s current or future voice, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It’s one thing for Jesus to declare, it will be a whole other thing for you, mom or dad, to say the same. His Grace is sufficient.

Do you know who your gay child is?

They are, the One… uniquely, purposefully.

This, One-thing, you must know.

What if you’re Wrong? A Question for Every Anti-Gay Person, Pastor, Father, Mother, Friend.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin, whether it be in practice, orientation, or both. Maybe you have studied the issue, or just assimilated the beliefs heard from others. If you have become familiar with any or all of the six passages in the Bible that seem to specifically address the issue, you interpret them as condemnations against homosexuality and proof that God declares it all as sin.

From that belief, your actions and attitudes have formed.

Perhaps you have adopted a posture that concludes the most faithful response to this issue is to “hate the sin and love the sinner.” It feels spiritual and gracious to you. Maybe you are even willing to go so far as to conclude for yourself and underscore to others an understanding that the sin of homosexuality is no greater than your’s or any other’s. Therefore, in your mind, homosexuals aren’t necessarily better or worse than you, just different in their sinning. In your church, family, or community they may even be, not only welcome, but wanted. Yet, at the end of the day, their homosexuality is seen as a sin problem nonetheless. Jesus died for “them,” just like He died for you.

On the other hand, maybe you hate homosexuals and have no restraint in saying so with all the lingual colors afforded you. Confident in your biblical grooming, you may even assert that homosexuality is a special kind of sin, more sinful than any other. To you, all homosexuals are self-declared exclusively by choice. You may or may not, out of the kindness of your Christian heart, allow them in your presence or fellowship, but they are at best, a deplorable kind of abomination in your sight, and less than qualify for any kind of harbor, inclusion, or acceptance in your church, family, or community. With your Bible in hand, and perhaps a picket sign or two, you declare in either speech or action, “God hates fags” and therefore, deep down, at some level or another, so do you.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of response, at the end of the day, in your judgement, homosexuality is a sin, it’s never acceptable to God nor is it ever His will or within His design. Therefore, “repentance” is ultimately the only answer, whether empowered by Grace or Law or some mixture thereof… change, confess, move away from sin, apply the power of Jesus to overcome, turn or burn… however you want to put it …that’s the answer, that’s the cure. Until then, there is still a “problem,” an “issue,” an “abnormality,” a “sin.”

My question for you is… what if you’re wrong?

I know, it’s all so clear to you. The biblical texts, the studies, the nature of it all. But, what if you’re wrong? What if it’s not so clear, the studies not so definitive, the unnatural not so unnatural.

What if you’re wrong, like Paul in Scripture, who actually believed it was “unnatural” for the Gentiles to accept Christ and be included in the fellowship of believers? By the way, you know who the Gentiles are?  You.

What if you’re wrong, like countless Christians throughout history who read your same Bible and vehemently concluded its support for racism and slavery?

What if you’re wrong, like court reporters and clerks in the 1960’s who, citing Biblical grounds, refused to document and issue interracial marriage certificates because they believed them to be committing sin?

What if you are wrong, like the Southern Baptist denomination, who finally in 1995, apologized to the black community for its role in using the Bible to endorse racism and slavery?

What if you are wrong, like the Pharisees, who believed they knew and lived the Scriptures better than anyone, but were shown out by Jesus to not only be in biblical error, but completing absent of understanding in regards to His heart and essence?

I mean, just imagine if Hitler had only considered, “maybe I am wrong about the Jews”

Imagine if the Christian theologian John Calvin had only considered, “maybe I didn’t read this text right?” before brutally burning one of his critics to death, all in the name of biblical faithfulness mind you.

Imagine, just imagine.

Imagine, if you’re wrong about homosexuality and homosexuals.

What if ignorance has eclipsed your understanding, not unlike the kind Hosea spoke of as the prime destroyer of people?

What if mistranslation, proof texting, and a lack of proper contextualization has rendered the Scripture as saying that which God never meant it to?

What if your unyielding grip on inerrancy has become in fact, your own spiritual death hold?

What if your fear of being wrong and therefore having to deconstruct and rebuild one’s heart, mind, and faith is preventing you from the guidance of the Spirit?

What if peer pressure and the gravity to conform to the prevailing Christian “norm” is squelching the wind of Jesus from His revelation in and transformation of your life?

What if homosexuality isn’t a sin, and now you don’t have a “sin” that you are confident can never and will never apply to you from which to comfortably condemn others and drink from the intoxicating chalice of self-righteousness that medicates your own inner shame, insecurity, condemnation, and guilt?

What if, like your heterosexuality, it’s not a choice, any more than the color of your eyes?

What if… you’re wrong?

If I am wrong, the Holy Spirit will simply pursue me with correction, go around and ahead me to thwart the misleading, and work in the lives of homosexuals to lead them to “repentance.”

However, if you’re wrong…

You have condemned, marginalized, persecuted, and falsely judged an entire group of God-imaged people.

You have labeled as sin, that which is not.

Some of you have disowned your own children. Labeling them, casting them out. While God declares “I will never leave you nor forsake you” you have abandoned, or at best, distanced yourself from that which God purposed you to forever enwrap.

You have put barbed-wire fences where God meant for tables.

You have been a contributor to the depression, the isolation, the terror, the suicide, and the living hell of countless people.

You have participated in nothing less than the new racism of the 21st Century.

And worst of all, you have joined the choir of the False Accuser, singing songs of pure evil, believing them to be hymns of the Savior that reflect His heart and mind.

You have partnered with Satan in the stealing, killing, and destroying of an entire population of God’s beloved.

…all, in the name of Jesus and biblical faithfulness.

Honestly, I am o.k. if somehow it turns out I’m wrong.

My question for you is, how can you ever be o.k. with the possibility…  you are?

 

Purchase Chris Kratzer’s new book, Leatherbound Terrorism…

A Garden, Jesus, and Affirming Gay Marriage

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do believe I have the Spirit.

I am listening, searching, and progressing as I grow in Grace.

Paul, in scripture, realized that with certain issues, there was no specific command from the Lord from which to gain guidance. In response, he sided with Grace and a listening to the Spirit as the foundation from which He gave instruction.

Enter, gay marriage.

If you are a follower of my writings and teachings, you will know that I do not believe all homosexuality is a sin. In other places (here), I share in detail my understanding of the six “clobber” passages that are commonly proof-texted to declare homosexuality as sin.

Yet, I am often asked to address the biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden where we have Adam and Eve, male and female, and in the minds of many, that is ample evidence that God does not support homosexuality nor gay marriage.

Well, to be sure, the Garden of Eden is the first, ideal model. It is a place of wholeness at every level. Yet, it is clear, we are no longer in Eden, and not everything in Eden is transferred nor always transferable to life outside of Eden. Jesus recognized this.

Maybe I should repeat that… Jesus recognized this.

In Eden, to be sure we have Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, I’ll give you that. But we also don’t have Adam and Eve plus Susie if things don’t work out. Yet, interesting enough, Jesus made allowance for life outside of Eden. He exchanged the ideal for the real. In regards to the issue of divorce and remarriage, he added to the model of Eden a new reality… divorce under certain circumstances. In Eden, divorce and remarriage was not the model, but Jesus brings it outside of Eden as, in certain situations, a new, faithful, authentic, God honoring possibility.

Wow.

It is interesting to me, that not only do we not have divorce and remarriage in Eden, we also don’t have adoption.

The only model for children and parenting in Eden is biologically connected. The reality that parents can have children without biological congruency of origin is unheard of in Eden. That parents can have children unnaturally, going against the biological, genetic, reproductive model of Eden is absent from Eden. It’s no where to be found.

Yet, adoption is found outside of Eden, and it is just as real, beautiful, authentic, and faithful as the model of biological parenting we see in Eden. I have two biological children (Eden) and two adopted children (outside of Eden) and I can tell you, there is no difference. They are our children purely and equally. No distinctions whatsoever. None.

So is the case with gay marriage. It is not the model of Eden, but that does not determine it cannot be a faithful, authentic, God honoring reality outside of Eden.

From Jesus, we have no command about bi-racial marriage, it’s not in Eden, but we do have the Spirit. And the Spirit has progressed us to affirmation, to see the beauty that God always saw.

From Jesus, we have no command about adoption, it’s not in Eden, but the Spirit has shown us its authenticity and God-delighting.

From Jesus, we have no command about homosexual marriage, it is not in Eden, but we do have the Spirit. The Spirit, that is always challenging our understanding of what can be authentic, beautiful, and affirmed in the mind of God.

Adoption, remarriage, bi-racial marriage, gay marriage…

Can be.

Is.

The Spirit.

Affirmation.

…words to ponder.

So You Believe Homosexuality is a Sin, Now What?

At the end of the day, the debate about whether homosexuality is a sin or not will long be like the debate between Calvinist and Armenians. Each will quote their bible verses and line up their arguments with very little to any resolution between them. Those who believe homosexuality is a sin have their biblical convictions, as do those who do not believe homosexuality is a sin. As a result of their disagreements, there is unfortunately very little, if any mutual respect for one another to be found in most circles. This, in my opinion, is reflective of the sad state of Christianity in America and beyond.

For me, beyond the question of, “Is homosexuality a sin?” is perhaps a much more important question, “If you believe it is, now what?” What is the Jesus-way of dealing with that which you believe is sin?

Here are some thoughts…  if you believe homosexuality is a sin… fine, now…

1) You should focus on taking your sin seriously, now more than ever.

Since you believe homosexuality is a sin, and apparently increasing in influence and presence in our culture, you should start taking your sin much more seriously as the same reality could manifest with and because of your sin issues.

Imagine if our culture had the same “outbreak” and increased acceptance of your sin issues as you perhaps feel is happening with homosexuality. That could be catastrophic.

Imagine if things like lying, gluttony, gossiping, coveting, or “not doing the good that you know to do” (to name a cursory few sins) were legalized and lit on fire in our culture. That would be world changing! Imagine if everybody adopted and legalized the sin in your life. Comparatively, the presence of homosexuality in our culture would pail in comparison to the damage potential of the sin in your life (or mine) going viral.

Furthermore, in the familiar teaching about logs of personal sin and specks of sin in other people’s lives, Christ taught how suspicious it is to be even merely looking at sin in other people’s lives when there is obviously a log-full to be taken seriously (looked at) in your own life. In fact, one could surmise, with much wisdom, that Jesus was pointing out the fact that if you properly took your own sin-log serious enough, there would be little if any time for looking, let alone, finger pointing at another’s sin. And even more, Jesus seems to set the standard, if your log of sin isn’t so serious to you that in seeing your own, you can’t even begin to dream of having the perspective from which to judge just a speck in another, you aren’t taking YOUR sin seriously enough.

Perhaps, we Christians who are often so sin-conscious in our outward gaze, but sin-justifying in our inward gaze are the reason why sin seems to be increasing in our culture. The culture sees our example, and concludes, “Double standard for you, double standard for me.”

See, a lack of needed seriousness (apparent because one seems to have time for sin finger-pointing) about one’s gluttoness face-feedings at the local Golden Coral every Sunday after service could be sending a message that a person’s homosexuality is not so serious too. A lack of seriousness about one’s church gossiping, slander, and backstabbing could be sending a message that one’s homosexuality is not so serious too. A lack of seriousness about one’s coveting of other people’s lives, ministries, salaries, homes, marriages, finances, clothes, health, etc. etc. etc. could be sending a message that their homosexuality is not so serious too. And the list goes on and on.

Since you believe homosexuality is a sin and it’s growing presence and influence in our culture is alarming, all the more reason, you better spend every waking moment getting off of their sin and on top of yours, for your’s could become even more alarming than theirs.

The way of Jesus in responding to believed sin isn’t to point fingers and focus attention externally, but to be humbled by the alarming, toxic reality of sin in our own lives that demands our internal vigilance and heavenly mercy.

The way of Jesus is to make sure you don’t take your eye off the ball. The ball is your sin, not theirs.

2) You should be befriending many more gay people.

Jesus befriended sinning, sinful, sin-ladened people. Can’t get around that.

In fact, much of his reputation was founded on it. Apparently it wasn’t a hobby, but a priority. People don’t get reputations from hobbies. Jesus saw sinners as friends, and more profound, sinners saw Jesus as “friend.”

Every gay person you meet, from the day you declared homosexuality a sin, should now conclude from your investment and interaction in their life that you are a real-deal “friend.” That’s the Jesus-way and the Jesus-result.

This is no easy accomplishment. That is, to be known as a “friend” by gay people. When gay people see you in public, they ought to be saying to one another, “he (or she) is safe, they truly get me, and love me for me.” Not an easy response to gain.

Thats why this Jesus-way of befriending means genuinely loving gay people, not for the purpose of trying to change them (as if you or I could do that anyways), but simply to love them. People don’t hang out with and call a “friend,” people who are simply trying to change them and thus put another spiritual knot on their belt. Do you call people like that, friends?

Oh, and by the way, that whole “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” thing. That’s like saying, “Love the pizza, but hate the sauce.” Loving a person the Jesus-way is loving the person, as is.

But, if you believe your befriending a homosexual can change them, all the more reason you ought to be befriending every gay person you meet.  Oh, and I guess that applies to every other kind of sin and sinner; hookers, liars, murders, child abusers, sexual predators, rapists etc. Shoot, for that matter, you ought to be befriending yourself.

Dang, between taking your sin more (properly) seriously and genuinely befriending gay people (who you may believe are our culture’s worst sinners) there isn’t going to be time for much else… hate, condemnation, marginalizing, political rants, declarations of your right and they’re wrong.

3) You should be studying the “clobber” passages that relate to YOUR sin much harder

Along with your belief that homosexuality is a sin, you may believe that people hearing the so called “clobber” passages in the Bible about homosexuality is going to change their mind and heart. Therefore, perhaps you memorize them and even rehearse them in preparation for that next debate or anticipated time when you get to “restore a brother gently.”

At the very least, if you are like most people who believe homosexuality is a sin, you have studied the 6 “clobber” passages in the Bible widely believed to condemn homosexuality as sin.

By the way, you also may believe there are passages in the Bible that give you license to point out people’s sin and get them on what you believe to be the right path. Just a question… these passages, that have become important to many people now, especially with the whole homosexuality issue, have they been just as important to you in regards to sins like gluttony, cheating, coveting, divorce, etc. etc. etc.? Have you made good on those passages and leaned across the cubicle to confront or “restore” your over eating, Christian coworker? What about your gossiping small-group buddy? What about your envious worship band team member? What about your non-biblically divorced next door neighbor?

If not, why not? There are tons of other sins and corresponding “clobber” passages to choose from? Aren’t those sins just as serious?

Why is it, with this whole homosexuality thing, that seemingly it’s all the sudden now so important to make sure we dust off the biblical badges that seem to justify our spiritual policing of believers and the world?

Well, if you believe clobber passages change hearts and minds, so be it… great. But that means you should now be all the more memorizing and studying the clobber passages about your sin for the same purpose.  You should be writing yourself blog posts, Facebook statements, political messages, declarations of doom and wrath, and holding yourself to the fire for the destruction of America?

See, God doesn’t need to look any further than your own sin (or mine) for cause and reason to open up a can of angel-wrath upon the world. In fact, God expects the world to sin, but you (and I) do it having “tasted and seen.” Oops, probably not good if you believe in all that judgement, wrath, and hell-fire stuff.

I mean really, if God was looking for easy justification to man-handle the planet and drum up disasters of judgement, I think we would ironically find him far more peering into the stain-glassed windows of the Church more than bedroom windows of the world.

So you believe homosexuality is a sin because of your understanding of the “clobber” passages in the Bible. What are the clobber passages that speak to your sin issues? Are you studying them with equal diligence and debate? What about your self-posts, self-articles, self-rants?

If you believe clobber passages change people, are you just as adamant to use them to change you?

4) You should be defending and declaring from the mountain tops the righteousness of homosexual Christians and God’s unconditional love for them.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin, great… now what? Is it more of an important sin than yours?

I read somewhere, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Sin, in God’s eyes, is not placed in hierarchy. Therefore, the same righteousness declared over your life, through faith in Christ, is the same declared over a homosexual Christian.

I know, maybe you say your sin is not a “life-style” of sin. You don’t willingly choose it. Really?

Btw, how many times sinning in the same way makes for a “life-style?” Is it two, five, ten, twenty four? Who gets to determine and judge that? And, how much time in between the sin is this limit. One hour, one day, one week? Who gets to determine and judge that?

See, if you (or I) can’t shout from the mountain top that homosexual Christians are righteous in Christ; unconditionally loved, holy, sanctified, and justified, than neither can you say you are. All these spiritual realities of the believer are based solely on Christ’s performance and finished work on the cross, not the believer’s. It is Christ who makes and keeps us righteous, holy, loved, sanctified, justified, and yes, even saved.

The moment you pull back from the righteousness of homosexuals, you are pulling back from your own.

If they aren’t righteous, you aren’t either.  If they are second class citizens, so are you.

5) You should be welcoming and wanting homosexuals in your church all the more.

In the same way, if you, with your sin and sinning, are welcome and wanted in your church, why aren’t homosexuals?

I know, it’s maybe because you see your sin as a sin and many homosexuals don’t. And yes, many don’t believe the way you do that their homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, perhaps in your mind they are not welcome or wanted. They, through their behavior and attitude towards what you call sin, are condoning sin. And you perhaps believe we can’t have any of that running around on in the church.

Well, maybe now you see your sin as sin, but did you always? Furthermore, do you see all your sin? Are you aware of all the areas of sin in your life and see every sin-area of your life as sin? Is not, in your beliefs, the heart wicked and full of deceit? Even portions of your heart, due to the “flesh?” Therefore, can you really trust that you see everything, and aren’t missing an area where you think you aren’t sinning, but actually are? Just like you believe homosexuals do.

By the way, perhaps you say you see your sin as sin, and that makes all the difference, is that why perhaps you overeat still? That’s why you perhaps still lie, right? That’s why you are better than homosexuals? You are better, more worthy, more wanted church-material because you are managing sin better in your life? That’s why you are the perfect leader, right? Never make mistakes that you know are mistakes, never see thing that you are doing as o.k when in fact, they are sin? Right?

I mean seriously, tell the Holy Spirit to move onto someone else. You don’t need any truth guidance, you got it all under perfect view, watch, discernment, and containment in your life. Which makes you the perfect gatekeeper for a church, right? Who better to know who should be in or out, welcome or wanted then you? You see all your sin perfectly, surely, you can do that in other people’s lives, right?

Trust me, awareness of sin makes a terrible safe-guard for sin. Just because you know and say it’s wrong doesn’t make you any more protected from acting on it, nor does it make you any better of a Christian or worthy of being welcomed or wanted in a church.

If “Church” is of and for the sin-aware, then “Church” would have never started. No one starts as sin-aware and therefore, there would have been no one to begin “Church” with on that first Pentecost.

Besides, in your mind, are homosexuals, regardless of “sin-awareness” better off in fellowship with the world or in the family of a church? If, while you were knowingly sinning, no one welcomed and wanted you, where would you be right now? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to change people, if change is needed? Point out sin, if sin pointing out is needed? Or, are you dependent on your “church-strength” and “church systems” to do it and manage it.

It’s one thing to welcome the knowingly sinning, and another to want them. It’s easy to welcome, and not want. Easy to let them sit in your pews, enjoy the same air conditioning, and sing your songs. But a whole other thing to “want” them; want them connected, want them serving, want them doing life along side everyone else.

Truth is, while you were knowingly sinning, through the cross, God welcomed and wanted you into His Kingdom, and still does. To not welcome and want homosexuals, is in all natural and spiritual reality, not to want and welcome you.

If you can’t welcome and want them, you can’t welcome and want you.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin… now what?

 

 

Stuff Jesus Never Said

To many believers and non believers, Jesus is a powerful person. His words have often been quoted and interpreted by people of varying views. But as with any person, sometimes Jesus has words and assertions put into his mouth that He never said, or even suggested.  And truth be told, the largest culprit in all of this is often we Christians. Yet, no matter where you are in the conversation about Jesus, sometimes we come to Him with our own perspectives and hope we can find a way to make His words sing our song.

So, here is some stuff you may have heard said or suggested, that Jesus never said or suggested at all…

1) “I am a card carrying, camouflage wearing, conservative republican.”  

No, Jesus stands above and outside of any one political group. Though His message is very relevant to politics and all of life, He himself exists and stands by Himself, outside of any one political affiliation. And, take it from His brothers, Jesus isn’t a fan of being used for political gain or being pimped out as a political figure. (John 7:1-14)

2) “Danger Will Robinson, gay people are especially disgusting”

Though some in our culture do and would say Jesus does, the truth is Jesus never said nor suggested that homosexuality is any more dirty or disgusting than other sins. Where some churches and Christians take a hands-off, arms length approach to this issue and the people involved, Jesus is found drawing close to the people who the religious would just as soon condemn, discard or disregard.  Debate as you will the issue of homosexuality and sin. No matter your conclusion, Jesus never shows by example nor words any kind of assertion that homosexuality is a special class of sin, and homosexuals a special class of sinner.  If homosexuality is a sin in serious need of confronting, so is the flan-fed, fat back… Jack.

3) “The bigger and slicker the church and its pastor, the better”

Indeed, today we live in the age of the celebrity pastor and the franchise church. Some are healthy, some are not. We have been led to believe that when it comes to church and ministry, bigger and slicker is automatically better. In fact,  it would take some digging through the tons of mailings sent to churches every day to find me a ministry conference for pastors that doesn’t have church growth and pastor performance as top topics of emphasis. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about ministry effectiveness in reaching people far from God etc. etc. God’s church should be a growing movement where creative and freedom flourishes. But, bigger and slicker does not automatically equate to better. A church and a pastor can have a lot of sharp, impressive looking activity and avatars going on without accomplishing near their redemptive potential. The way we do ministry these days as Christian leaders, you would have thought that Jesus actually said, “Brand it, buff it, build it, box it, as big as your ego can bake it.”  Indeed, we have replaced “shepherd” with “franchise owner,” and “church” with spiritual “consumer club.”

4) “You should make sure people notice how devoted and super-duper in love with Me you are”  

I know what you are thinking, but what about when Jesus says things like, “Let your light shine…?” Jesus’ words about “letting your light shine” are not a reference to your love for Jesus, but the new person you are in Christ. In fact, Jesus says ” you are” the light of the world. It’s about Christ shining as you and in you, not you shining how much you love Jesus.

Take it from Peter, boasting of your love for Jesus places the emphasis and burden on you and your performance, and in the end, shows you up as the denying hypocrite. However, boasting of Jesus’ love of you, like John, puts the emphasis and burden on Jesus, and leaves you reclined with Him at the table, resting in His Grace. Boasting of your performance and passion for Him leads to denying His, boasting of His performance and passion for you, leads to receiving and resting with Him and in Him.

5) “I prefer hymns, choirs, and organ music”

The way some churches feel about modern instruments and styles of music, you would have thought Jesus would have said just that, “I prefer hymns, choirs, and organ music.” Holy sacred cows batman. The truth is, Jesus never said nor suggested anything close to that, and there is no such thing as a Christian “style” of music. What makes music “Christian” or “sacred” is the words, not the style. A style that is worshipful to some may not be worshipful to others, but it does not make it any less worshipful to God. Furthermore, the same traditional hymns and instruments deemed to be exclusively sacred by some  today, were in fact, highly controversial, contemporary, and even deemed “satanic” as little as 50-100 years ago.

6) “Your Bible is actually best used as a taser”

The way some Christians uses their Bibles, you would have thought Jesus had said, “Memorize it, mark it, and make it sting”

Jesus in fact said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:38). Jesus said this as a message to make sure we never place the Bible and our use of it over Him and understand the purpose of the Bible is to lead us and people to an encounter and experience Jesus and the life He brings, not to tase them with it! Religious people use the Word of God to condemn, corner, control, and complicate. Jesus wants us to use the Bible to give His life, healing, Truth, freedom and Grace. The goal is not memorization and highlighting, but receiving, experiencing, and giving His life.

7) “Drinking beer will just make you burn brighter in Hell”  

The very one who turned water into wine, and drank with sinners said that?  Nope.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  Matthew 11:18.

Yes, drinking can be dangerous. Getting drunk is an obvious no brainer.  And, in some instances and contexts, it can work against our ministry to people.

Yet, condemning those who drink responsibly as hell-bound sinners and second class Christians (and leaders) is both unfair and misguided. Furthermore, I would say in some contexts this attitude has done more to damage potential ministry to people than the puritanistic, religious approach to alcohol Jesus (and I) referenced above.

8) “The fast track to spiritual maturity is reading books by popular pastors”

We pastors and teachers are used by God in powerful ways to help people understand and experience God and His life. You would do well to learn from people who are wise in the ways of God.

Yet, what pastors teach and preach are often revelations from God they have experienced from their own study of the Word or other pastors/teachers who have studied the Word. Either way, somewhere along the way, someone has done the chewing on the Word so that there is something to teach/feed you.

As a Christian culture we have become fast-food spiritual consumers. There is a lot processed food out there. Book after book, conference after conference. Processed from some pastor or teacher who did the chewing, into your mouth.

This is perhaps a good start for the new believer or even a nice appetizer for the experienced Christian.

Everyone of my children started with processed, pureed foods that required little to no chewing.  Later however, they started to chew it for themselves; having to process it, taste it, chew it, and digest it for themselves, over and over.  To eat processed, pureed food now as emerging adults would leave them hungry, malnourished, and lacking the joy of real food.

This is what the Bible calls meditation. Meditating on the Word of God.  Tasting, chewing, processing it for yourself. A direct revelation from God to you, for you, through you.  Nothing wrong with listening and learning from pastors/teachers like me, but it never should take the place nor become more of your spiritual diet than you personally tasting, chewing, and processing the Word of God for yourself. What makes for a nice appetizer, won’t make for a good meal.

Stop relying on popular pastors for your spiritual diet and making them your main meal. You won’t grow through reading their books until you have made reading God’s book for yourself your primary way of encountering Jesus and His wisdom and revelation for your life.

Reading books by popular pastors isn’t a fast track to spiritual maturity. Besides, some (if not many) of them just present the Christian life (and the Gospel) as a bunch of new things you need to be doing more or better. To be sure, we live in the age of the performance-driven Christian, and there are tons of books to get you feeding on a diet of steps, strategies, and “to do” lists that will ultimately still leave you hungry.

Spiritual hunger for the Christian is a sign of immaturity, not maturity. Jesus actually said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

No, the fast track to spiritual maturity is to realize in Christ, as a new creation, you have already been made fully mature!  Now, believe it and go live what Jesus has already made you.

Spiritual maturity isn’t a process of performance-progress, but a process of believing more in who Jesus already made you into through His performance, not yours. It’s not about becoming a son (or daughter), it’s about living out your sonship that God has already given you and made you to become.

Hot Potato – Addressing the Tough Issues with Grace

From homosexuality to abortion, from legalized marijuana to racism, the culture we live in is filled with “hot potato” issues. Issues that are hard to handle and seem like you can’t touch without getting into a mess of opinions, charged emotions, heated debate and relational tension. Everybody knows what it’s like when a political or moral subject is brought up around the family Thanksgiving table, and all the sudden you can cut the tension in the air with a knife. Unfortunately, it’s not just a family gathering phenomenon, “hot potato” issues come to the surface in just about every venue of life. And to be sure, it’s easy to get burned without ever even knowing what happened.

Unfortunately, Christians (and churches) have often unnecessarily  stirred the pot and poured gasoline on these charged issues instead of being a source of healing, understanding, and mutual respect.  Are there perfect ways to handle these issues and respond to these hot topics within our culture? No, not usually. But, there are better ways!

Here are a few suggestions for Christians and churches…

1) Cut the one-sided message game. – “Wow, that message on the church sign (or billboard) has totally changed my mind”  said no one ever.

These issues are too big and too personal for one sided statements blurted out into the public.  From sidewalk agenda-preaching of things that people are against to messages of the like held on signs, these one-sided methods, though probably well intentioned,  have greater propensity to do more harm than good.  Clever statements on signs, billboards, mailings etc. rarely influence people onto your thinking, but polarize the issues and the people involved. Those who think like you smile inside and join your cause, those that don’t, don’t and won’t. Besides, most people read into what is read or said through their own experiences and beliefs and interpret them differently. The chances of being misunderstood and communicating an unintended message greatly increase through these methods. These highly charged issues are too important, complex, personal and volatile to simply blurt out a one sided, over simplified message about, even as crafty, well intentioned, and clever as they might seem to be.

2) Don’t hide behind Facebook (or any other social media). – Man, if they hadn’t made that status statement of their views against _________, I would still be so ignorant and misguided.” said no one ever.

Facebook, Twitter etc. can be a place to begin a meaningful conversation about tough issues, but rarely do people use it in that way. Rather, they vomit out their thoughts and beliefs about certain hot topics in a 50 character status update and then hide behind the distance and safe-zone that social media platforms afford. If you want to ride your soapbox regarding heated issues without having real, meaningful conversations that actually go somewhere, keep blasting your trumpet through your status update and taking it down once someone comments with an opposing view. If you are out to feel better about yourself and get a rush from the praise of your like-minded choir, than Facebook  etc. is your “hot potato” place. If changed lives, mutual respect, and real dialogue are what you seek, social media may be a place to begin, but it’s never the place to stay or end. Make sure you are open to conversation, dialogue, opposing views, and kindly giving mutual respect before you use social media in addressing tough social issues.

3) Get face to face-  The fact that no one has ever taken the time to talk with me (not just to me) has truly been the difference that has changed my whole way of thinking.” said no one ever.

To0 many churches hide in their buildings and programs, and too many Christians hide behind their social media. It’s amazing how a conversation can change when two (or more) people meet physically, face to face.  Or at least, voice to voice. 70% of communication is non-verbal, so imagine all that’s missing when we don’t take the time to be with people, in the flesh. These issues are far too important than to settle for anything less than face to face, voice to voice conversations. Are face to face conversations always possible? No. But chances are you can find a better way than texting, tweets, Facebook, and Pinterest to dive into these sensitive, toxic issues.

4) Start with listening, begin and end with Grace-  

“When I realized they weren’t listening to me and couldn’t wait to tell me what I should think, feel, and do, it made their Bible bashing statements of fear, guilt, and shame all the more powerful to turn my stupid thinking and sin-living life around. Deep down I knew all I needed was a healthy dose of condemnation and a few “to do” programs and messages to get me on the right path” said no one ever.

Influence is gained through listening, a change of mind is gained through Grace.  Grace is not a reduction of nor a retreat from truth. Rather it is the truth seen through and dealt with through Grace. Everyone has a story that if you don’t learn about and understand, you forfeit your ability to minister the Gospel into their lives.  Every person is different, and the Gospel is personal to every person’s life. You can’t communicate the Gospel personally without knowing the person. Most people have never had a person truly hear their pain. Most Christians and Churches don’t begin with listening, but begin with admonishing, correcting, and quoting. And then we wonder why our message rarely gains any traction within our broken, hurting culture. Furthermore, when we speak, we tend to lead with the Law. “You need to do this, change that, stop this, start that, join this, sign up for that”  As well intentioned as our programs and prescriptions might be, they actually end up further imprisoning rather than setting free. Why? Because they lean towards the Law, and not on the pure Gospel of God’s Grace. The Law never changed anyone, the Gospel can change everyone. No one has ever become Holy through punishment, nor proclamations of condemnation, rules, and areas where one does not measure up or is getting it wrong. Christians and Churches have become impotent and irrelevant in our culture today because no matter our worship styles, logos, and campaigns, the Law in any shape or form is irrelevant and impotent to change lives. And don’t be fooled, great numbers of baptisms, church memberships and the like may be nothing more than a sign that we have successfully inspired people to perform a religious ritual to begin their journey into becoming a performance driven Christian in our life enhancement club. The only thing that is relevant and potent to change minds and hearts is the Gospel of God’s Grace.  Start with listening, begin and end with Grace. People who get true Grace, don’t sin more, they sin less. You can never have too much nor give too much Gospel Grace. More Grace, more thankfulness. More Grace, more repentance. More Grace, more faithfulness. More Grace, more obedience. It is the Grace of God that teaches us to live rightly. It is the Grace of God that enables people to reign in life, not rules, spiritual gymnastics, church traditions, guilt trips, fear tactics, punishment, Bible bashing, clever programs, stage lighting, skinny jeans, and hip sermon series.

Let’s open our ears and trust the Gospel of Grace.  Let’s be less clever and more caring. Less shock and awe, more respect and carefulness. Let’s be more accessible and less one-sided in our communication as we all seek to be Jesus in a “hot potato” world.

What would you add to this list?  Looking forward to your thoughts!

 

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