A few days ago a young mother came to get some food and clothes that our church offers to people in need. She was in her mid 30s and was wearing a gay pride t-shirt. As I visited with her, she began to tell me about the difficult path her life is on at the moment.
After being injured from work and let go, she struggled to make ends meet, and her wife was diagnosed with bone cancer. They were doing all they could just to keep her alive and healthy as long as possible, but it was getting worse.
For those of us who are comfortable, it can be difficult to imagine what it would be like to struggle so hard in life.
After our visit I invited her and her wife to our church. She smiled and told me that I seemed like a nice person, but she wouldn’t feel very comfortable due to their last visit to a church that went south really quickly. She explained how the last church they had visited told her kids that unless their parents get a divorce they would all go to hell. As someone who has been damaged by the church, stories such as these just tear my heart apart.
After some more discussion, I promised her that at our church she would feel loved and supported as her wife battled cancer. Sure, we may have a different moral foundation when it comes to sexuality, but this wasn’t the time or the place to focus on that issue.
Most LGBTQ people know what Christians believe on this subject, but what they don’t know is how much God loves them. They don’t know this because all we communicate is justice and not compassion.
In the churches pursuit of holiness, we have spent a lot of time talking about what is sinful. We have worked hard to cleanse ourselves of all unrighteousness, but have we done so in the wrong way?
If your pursuit of holiness makes you look down your nose at those who are lost then you didn’t pursue holiness at all. You pursued pride. Don’t forget that you were once like everyone else, and it was Gods grace alone that set you free.
This conversation made me think of the story of Zaccheaus. He was hated by Jews and Romans—a social outcast of the highest degree. Jesus saw this outcast and told him, “Hurry, I must have dinner at your house.”
Instead of being disgusted by his sins, like all the other
religious people, Jesus saw someone who was begging to be set free. The love of
Jesus was so strong that Zaccheaus repented and was saved. Jesus showed him
grace, and the Spirit did the convicting.
This may be difficult for some of you because you have spent very little time with anyone from the LGBTQ community. You may have the urge to bring up the obvious issues as soon as possible, maybe even the first day they show up.
If you are wondering when you should show grace and when you should speak truth just ask yourselves how long would you need to know someone before they started asking personal questions about your sex life?
The relationship comes first and then the theology. We have inherited a ministry of kindness and should copy what Jesus did.
We should run to the LGBTQ community and invite them over for dinner—not because we approve of their morality but because they are people to be loved just like anyone else.
If you are truly seeking holiness then being a morality snob is not part of the formula. Lost people will always act like lost people. They have no other choice. So open the doors of your church a little wider, know people a little better, love a little more and watch what the Holy Spirit does to the spiritual vagabonds who wander in.