Untitled.

This is going to be a real, raw, maybe even unstructured post.  It’s half prayer, half open letter, half unfiltered thoughts.  But it’s all real and heartfelt.

Tonight, the young adult group I am a part of discussed a rather taboo topic: the LGTB community.  We watched this rather incredible talk by JD Greear.  Going in, I had one idea.  I left with a totally different one.

It really hit me this evening that I’ve been judging those in the LGTB community because they sin differently than me.  As a Christian, I’ve been condemning them because the Bible says homosexuality is wrong.

But that’s not the only thing God doesn’t like.  He doesn’t like lying, and gossiping, and cheating, and lusting, and watching pornography, and killing, and raping, and all manner of things.  He doesn’t like sex before marriage, and he doesn’t like excessive drinking.  He doesn’t like bullies and abusers, and yet still others.

But here’s the kicker.  He loves us all, no matter the sin.

God doesn’t care what you’ve done, as long as you come back to Him.  He views any sin as the same; lying is on the same level as rape, so is homosexuality and cheating.  It’s like looking at an extensive city like New York City from the sky.  You know there are skyscrapers and one-story buildings, but from this view, all the building look to be the same height.

He extends grace to everybody.  And as Christians, we know this.  But do we show this?  Do we extend grace to those who sin differently than us?

Many people like to cite the first part of 1 Corinthians 6:9, as a reason why homosexuals will not inherit heaven.  But the verse goes on to say that anybody wicked (sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanders, swindlers, etc.) won’t inherit the Kingdom of God.

That means anybody who values something (like a phone, a celebrity, looks, fame, money, work, politics, etc.) more than they value God, won’t go to Heaven.  That means someone who is greedy won’t go to Heaven.  Anyone who is a drunk, a cheater, prostitute, sinner, won’t inherit the kingdom of God.  Thank goodness for verse eleven, where is says that because of the blood of Jesus, our sins have been washed away.

But now, why do we feel the need to point out the sins of our brothers and sisters when we each have a sin (or sins) we struggle with?  The sin I struggle with is pretty soul deep, and has left many nasty scars.  So who am I to condemn someone else to Hell, because they sin differently than me?

I am a Christian, and I’m not perfect.  But I know what grace is, and the truth of my sins.  I know how much my sin upsets God, how much I stumble and fall.  I serve an incredible God, though, because His grace is an ocean.  He forgives me and loves me.  I’m totally okay that I’m sinking in His grace, but God’s grace doesn’t end at Christians.  It extends to everyone.  We can’t sanitize grace dependent on the sin, or the person. So why do we?

Many people I know and love boycotted Target when they enacted the new bathroom policy.  When I asked why, I was told it was because they knew God didn’t condone being transgender, and my loved ones didn’t want to support a company that went against God.  I was okay with that answer, until I read this, especially the eighth point.

And the writer’s right.  Jesus would be right in the muck and grim of life.  One of my favorite articles I’ve ever read “I went to a strip club” reminds me that Jesus Christ loves the least of us, and the cast offs.  He went where no one else would.  He befriended the prostitute, ate with the tax collector, and loved the dying thief beside him on the cross, just to name a few.  So why do we think Jesus isn’t with homosexuals and the rest of the LGTB community?  And if Christians refuse to do life with people who are hurting/confused/lost/different, how will these people ever know God?  Not to mention, when we cast people off in the name of God, they get a bitter taste in their mouth about Christians and what we are about.

Society likes to give Christians two options to things: you either support, or you oppose (affirmation or alienation).  And just like in the Bible, Jesus provides a third option-love and friendship.  I love my friends, but that doesn’t mean I condone or approve of everything they do.  If the need arises, I approach them in truth about a problem, and show them grace.  I love them, and want to see them come back to God.  And as JD Greear says in the video, “It’s what you tell someone after telling them the truth that determines whether or not you are judging them.”. And because I love my friends, I tell them so after revealing the truth about their actions.  But why don’t we do that when talking to our LGTB brothers and sisters?  It’s automatically condemnation and ridicule after we speak truth, not grace and love.

Greer also says “We have to love our gay neighbor more than our position on sexual morality.”  Have we gotten to the point where we’ve started measuring the worth of a person against our own standard instead of God’s?  We really aren’t powerful enough to say that our way is better than God’s way.  I know several Christian people in my life who find a certain amount of joy in how Target’s sales have dipped since the bathroom policy has been enacted.  I love these people, but it almost hurts my heart that they are more concerned about the destruction of a company, rather than the people.  As Christians that love a God that hates injustice, what is going on here?

I can’t speak as to whether or not the LGTB community is born such or not.  I don’t know if I even care anymore.  That is a question for God.  All I know is if I am not loving them and sharing the Gospel with them, I am hating them.  And regardless of the sin, they are my brothers and sisters under God.  And because I know this is true, I can’t pick and choose what part of God I want to follow.  Being a follower of God requires me to be uncomfortable.

I will not lie to you.  I’ve had several customers come through my work that have been homosexual.  I was even on a subway once with someone who was transgender.  I was uncomfortable and I automatically judged.  Of course, I tried to correct my thoughts to those of love and understanding.  But my gut reaction was to judge and hate.  And I try not to hate anyone, because that’s such a  dangerous thing.

If the sin I struggle with was as obvious as homosexuality, I’d be judged and ridiculed too.

Dear LGTB brothers and sisters, I am so sorry for the hurt and pain the church has caused you.  In treating you the way we have, we’ve gone against the God we serve.  I am sorry.  Whether you are practicing or not, you deserve respect and love.  I, and the church, may not condone what you do, but that does not mean we don’t love you.  As our brothers and sisters under God, we should hurt when you are hurting.  We should be your friends, and hope for a world where God is seen everywhere.  I am praying for you, for happiness and peace, and truth.  The church and I want you to understand that we love you, our arms are open wide.  We want to do life with you.  But at the same time, we want to you to see the goodness and grace of God, and how powerful it is to repent to the One who won’t judge.  Because, at the end of it all, Heaven isn’t strictly for heterosexuals and Hell isn’t strictly for homosexuals.  Just like you don’t get into Heaven just by being white, and you certainly don’t go to Hell for being black.  Heaven and Hell are matters of the soul.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, even me, even the church.  And brothers and sisters, I want to see you in Heaven one day, because that’s where my God wants you to be.  And I am not near powerful enough to say He doesn’t, simply because of one sin.

 My favorite song of all time is How He Loves by Crowder.  It helped me through a really rough time in my life.  The line “If His grace is ocean, we’re all sinking” gets me every time.  Because it’s true.  God’s grace is for everyone.  He’s surrounding this breaking and hurting world in His love and grace.  And there’s nothing we mere humans can do to dictate who gets grace or love.  In the chorus, Crowder sings “Oh, how He loves us/ oh, how He loves us/ oh, how He loves us all.”. Our Father God loves all of us.  Muslims, Buddhist, agnostics, ISIS, skeptics, addicts, cheaters, idolaters, politicians, orphans, drug lords, mentally ill, prostitutes, sex slaves, feminists, African Americans,  Asians, Europeans, Africans, South Americans, Americans, missionaries, singers, celebrities, cult leaders, rapists; the list goes on and on.  But God loves us all.  Every last one of us sinners.  We are His children and He wants to see us come home to Him.  His heart breaks when we sin, no matter the sin, but He doesn’t stop loving us and washing us in His infinite grace.

My fellow Christians, we are free of the infinite debt of sin because of Jesus Christ. So how can we go around condemning others?  Sounds a bit like Matthew 18: 21-35 to me.

I choose to live in love from here on out.  I choose to love everyone, regardless of their sin, because the God I love more than anything, loves everyone.  It may be uncomfortable, but nothing incredible is done without opposition or resistance.  I will not the lies of the Devil distract me from loving the hurting and the broken.  In the name of God, get away from me, Satan. 

I don’t think this is a modern idea, or even a conservative, or liberal idea.  This is a God idea, and when we start putting human labels on it, we have a problem.

Friends, let’s stop letting our own prejudices get in the way of living like Christ.  Living like Christ should be the most important thing to us.

God, I pray that you give us the ability to love those we deem unlovable.  I ask, in your powerful name, please fill us with a boldness and courage that only comes from you.  Fill us with a love for everyone, like your love, knowing no discrimination or limits.  Oh God, help us to speak in truth and grace, to those we think deserve to be cast off.  I pray that our eyes will be opened to the hurting around us, those that need you.  God, your grace is amazing and bewildering.  We do not deserve it, but yet you give it to us.  Help us to reach out to those we think don’t deserve it.  We are wrong if we think certain people don’t deserve your grace.  Help us love like you did, Jesus.  I ask all of this in your ever powerful name.

Dear brothers and sisters, I love you.  All of you, no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or how you sin.  I love you, and so does God.

Julia

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