Good evening sir.
I have not really stopped thinking about this topic, this one we have talked about in depth, this subject that seems to pervade nearly every area of our lives thanks to the media and all sides who appear to want it to become more than it probably should be.
I'm not saying I am sick of anyone or anything, but I have to wonder if all this volleying is doing any good or if it is just furthering the divide. The world seems bent on creating a chasm of us versus them and hiding inside their exceptionalism until Jesus comes back on the wings of an F-18, holding an American Flag and shooting RPG's at anyone sporting a rainbow sticker on their Mazda Miata.
You may have to pardon me for my excessive wit as I'm afraid that most of my compassion for those who call themselves Christian is waning. I suppose this was bound to happen given my strong liberal leanings and the fact that I was a liberal before I gave my heart to Jesus, but I am so tired; frankly.
In this day of communication and social connectivity for a wide range of platform broadcasting, how is it that there is so much hate? Oh wait, I know, let me answer that one...it's because the people who control the platform for broadcasting are full of hate and anyone who dares to stand up and speak love is labeled as a softy or a pacifist or worse....a Jesus freak.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the honor to sit and talk to quite a few people who have different views than mine and share with them about this topic. Our positions on a host of topics are all over the board but we all agreed on one thing: we are not doing anything to show the love of Christ in this matter, at least not to the extent that we could be. Furthermore, we are forgetting about a few simple tenets, so let me share them with you.
When did we become perfect? Seriously, think about that one for just a second and then remember what Jesus told us to pray. He prayed what is now commonly called the Lord's Prayer. In that prayer we pray to God to "Forgive us our debts". Remember that one? It's a good part of the prayer and we like it because we know that God forgave us our ultimate debt, the one we could never repay, the one we could never do anything about unless somebody did something for us. Our debt was sin and without the ultimate sacrifice, we would be eternally guilty with no way to ever pay back that debt. We should all be found guilty and forced to spend eternity separated from our creator but that wasn't the plan. God wants us to be with Him so He forgave us our debt.
Have you ever scratched your head on that one? I know I have because I know I am certainly not worthy of being saved. As the song goes, I was a wretch. But Jesus came, lived a sinless life, was crucified in our place and then rose again. This is the story of our lives too, not just the story of His.
That redemption story is for you and me.
That story is for everyone.
That story is for the gay man.
That story is for the lesbian woman.
That story is also for the murderer and the thief and the adulterer and so on. We've touched on the beauty of grace before but let me delve a little deeper this time. Bear with me. This is a story of redemption, to be sure, but this is also a story of perfection and of forgiveness of sins. This is even a story about justice...just not your brand of justice.
You see, in the world today we seek justice for those who commit wrongs. Those wrongs could be against society or they could simply be personal things, like having someone lie to you. They could be serious offenses like childhood abuse or a different kind of abuse, like watching your father cheat on your mother and then walk away from everything. In our world, we want justice to be served because somehow it will make us feel vindicated and give us closure and help us sleep better at night so we can say that the other person got what was coming to them and we can sit back and say "I told you so" and laugh.
We want people to hurt because we've been hurt. That's our brand of justice. And the reason we want justice so badly is because we have a problem and that problem can be traced back to the very beginning, to an apple, a garden, a snake and two people. Before that fateful bite, life was good. In fact, life was perfect. Let me repeat that, because it bears repeating....life was perfect. From the moment those teeth sank into the skin of that apple, we have been desperately trying to get that perfection back. We have tomes full of rules that have been written since nearly the dawn of time and those rules have always been for the sole purpose of keeping people in line, keeping the peace, honoring others, honoring God and if we would only keep all the rules, things would be....wait for it....perfect.
So far, that's not working out very well for us.
In fact, since that fateful bite, there hasn't been a perfect moment since. And yet, we strive for perfection daily. Our marketing gurus tell us to do so and our society says it's attainable and we teach and coach our kids in such a way that we expect it and when we go anywhere and do anything we demand it and ARE WE OUT OF OUR MINDS???!!!!
Let's get back to the Lord's Prayer. After the line where we pray to God to forgive us our debts, we then say "as we forgive our debtors". This is simply meant to say that we should pardon the debts of the people in our lives who owe us, because there is nothing that someone owes you that is anywhere near the debt that God pardoned for you. The trouble is that we have that pesky perfection problem, so anyone in our lives who isn't living up to that standard of perfection that we set becomes a failure in our eyes. This goes for anyone who owes you anything, including an apology. This goes for anyone in your life that you have deemed imperfect based on your standard of perfection. This goes for anyone who you want the swift arm of justice to come down on. The truth is, this goes for anyone you can think of, regardless of whether you know them or not, that you think deserves God's wrath and if it were up to you, a lightning bolt from heaven would simply smoke them out. Or maybe an RPG from a guy standing on the wing of a jet.
Did I mention I was tired? I'm not tired, I'm fired up; frankly. But getting fired up isn't going to solve much, it's just going to raise the anxiety in the room a little and with all these RPG's flying around, that might not be good.
Perfection is not going to happen. But you know what will (and can) happen? Forgiveness.
And that happens because of grace.
Not justice. Not your brand of justice, anyway.
In the world of forgiveness, we live day to day wanting grace but also wanting justice. We want to hurt people because we've been hurt and maybe if they apologize just right and make us feel all warm and squishy inside, we might offer them a little grace. But only maybe.
So we go on hurting others and calling it justice because in our heads, it's what people deserve. Grace becomes something we think we deserve and as we continually strive for perfection and demand even more from those around us, we want to be worthy of grace but in all reality, we want justice first.
And in this life, there's only room for one. Grace or justice. You can't have both. Not your kind of justice, anyway. You can't have perfection either. Not your kind of perfection, anyway.
But you can have grace. In fact, you've already been given grace, even though you don't deserve it.
The only thing left is to give it out.
Because trust me, justice and perfectionism and all this striving isn't working.
IT WILL NEVER WORK.
But grace will. Grace always works. And grace is what this world needs if we're going to compassionately address the gay community in love. If we're going to reach out a hand to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If we're EVER going to accept the fact that perfection in this life is unattainable, but love and grace are in abundant supply at the foot of the cross.
My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.
My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.