© Jules Middleton 2012
There has been a lot of talk within (and without) the church recently about homosexuality, particularly related to marriage, but also the whole Chick-fil-A debarcle, which if you are a Brit you may have missed, but you can get the gist of it via The Guardian, here. I have said before and I will say again that I will not weigh into this debate, partly because I don't really want to align myself with any particular argument and partly because I don't actually know what Jesus would think about homosexuality (and nor do any of us actually). However what I do object to is the hate and vehemance with which people attack others and even other Christians because of their sexual orientation (or other things for that matter). There have been some amazing posts recently that have inspired me to write today and a few of these are:
Digital Nun write recently about whether it is ok to hate.
Anita has written about Chick-fil-A and tells Chrisitans to stop being so oppositional
and Rachel Held Evans, brilliantly on the same issue
Lay Anglicana had a guest post this morning on the future of the church
Do you know what, frankly I don't care if someone is gay or straight, it wouldn't make a difference to how I spent my time with them, and I wouldn't treat anyone differently because of their background, nationality or skin colour so why would I with sexual orientation? Anyway, it's really none of my business. What is my business though, is to be more like Jesus. A fundamental principal of being a Christian is to love as he loves us. Our God is a God of Love, not of hate or making enemies. Yes you can say that Jesus came to challenge everyone and indeed he did - yes, he challenged those in authority in the church who were fundamentally wrong about their doctrine, those who didn't recognise him as the Messiah. But for the rest, those who were 'ordinary people', sinners like the rest of us, he hung with them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. He may not have shied away from telling them they were in the wrong, but he did it with love, and either way he was the son of God, we are most definiately not. And aside from all of that the bible tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
Galatians 5:13-15 The MessageLove the Message, what a great line at the end there. 'If you bite and ravage each other watch out...' indeed. watch out.
It really does infuriate me when people make decisions on what is right and wrong in others lives based on their own judgement. That cannot be right. As Christians we are representing Christ and for some that seems to be a reason to berate others for their behaviour. We are ALL sinners and it is by Gods grace that we may enter his kingdom. Is it particularly graceful to condemn others because they don't fit our own - often skewed - ideal?
As Christians, as those with a voice, as those in authority or positions of public exposure, we have a responsibility to show Jesus to those around us, to those who don't know him. And if all of us who profess to share his name as Christians, if we all did that, on a daily basis, in our actions, in our words, in love, then I think people might be a bit more interested in coming to our churches.
In Wendy Dacksons post on Lay Anglicana's blog she includes this quote:
Evelyn Underhill, the great Anglican mystic of the early 20th century, said that the ‘only really interesting thing about religion is God.’ People aren’t staying away from the Church to play football or shop—they’re staying away because they aren’t finding God.
And I would add to that, to say that also, they are not finding God within us - those who say we love him. And that is really sad.
As I look to the future, and contemplate entering a life of ministry within the church that I love, I am both excited and fearful. Excited to be serving Jesus and to be sharing his message in new and challenging ways, excited to see people coming to know him, to see them released and given new found freedom. But also fearful - for the church, for its future, for the way that people see the church in our society. I want the church to completely represent my Lord and saviour, I want to be part of a church that sees people meeting him and having their eyes opened. I want to bask in His glory, in His church, in His love. And yet, to be honest sometimes I wonder if all that can happen in this church. But what I will say is this: I will die wanting and trying to see that. I will not let go of that until the day I meet him face to face...