Friday, December 11, 2015

5 Things Jesus Says to Those Who Condemn LGBTQ Persons

Five Things Jesus Would Say to New Spring Church
When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
Matthew 17:14-18

A recent post from New Spring Church is titled “5 Things Jesus Says to the Gay Community.” Though the title sounds promising, the actual post is condemning. If anything, the initially soft tone and the deceptiveness of the article makes it even more damaging.

But I have a solution!

With just a few minor edits, I believe it is exactly what Jesus would say to those who persist in condemning and excluding LGBTQ persons from full participation in the life of the church.

I know. 

Jesus never said anything at all about LGBTQ issues. But bear with me. If “New Spring Church” can pretend, then so can we. 

And when we speculate about what Jesus might have said, we are always on safer ground when we tilt toward grace rather than judgment. So here we go: 

There is a lot of noise on the news and in public forums about gay marriage and traditional values. Everyone has an opinion on what’s right and what’s wrong. But what would Jesus say? How would Jesus address those who persist in the perverse exclusion and condemnation of LGBTQ persons? Do not let homophobia and bigotry possess you. You can repent and change. Looking through scripture, Jesus makes His thoughts fairly clear.

1. I love you.

Amidst the protest signs, yelling crowds and political referendums, the simple message of Jesus’ love for you is often drowned out. Never doubt that Jesus loves you more than you could ever know.

Jesus doesn’t just love a future version of you; He loves you exactly as you are right now. Jesus’ love for you has no prerequisites or requirements.

Even if you hate Him and deny his teachings, Jesus loves you and wants what is best for you.

Love is at the core of everything Jesus taught. Unfortunately, His message of love has been conveniently left out by many who would rather make a point than make a difference (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8-10; Romans 5:8; Psalm 86:15).

2. I understand rejection.

Jesus knows how it feels to be a social outcast.

You would think the religious leaders would have been His best friends, but they hated Him. They sought to kill Him and publicly shame Him any chance they had.

Eventually, the religious elite joined forces with local politicians and murdered Jesus in front of a cheering crowd.

Rejection hurts.

Jesus’ own family thought He was out of His mind; you probably understand how that feels. In Jesus’ greatest moment of need, His closest friends deserted Him.

You may feel rejected by society and the church right now, and that daily pressure takes a toll. Jesus understands.

His heart always breaks for the rejected and the outcast. Jesus wants to gather you in His arms and let you know that He loves you. You have a home with Jesus, you belong to Him and you are His child, even when you reject and condemn others. Even your bigotry cannot remove you from God’s love.

Don’t reject Him because He has not rejected you (Isaiah 53:3; Mark 3:20-21;Matthew 26:55-56; Matthew 27; Ezekiel 18:21-23).

3. I also was tempted.

Jesus was tempted in every way that we are tempted. He does not shame you or reject you because of your temptations and feelings. He understands your fearful temptation to reject others and deny their full personhood.

Some like to pretend they are perfect and never face any struggles, but they’re lying. Jesus really was perfect and still faced temptation. Like you, He battled the desire to run away from His Father’s plan.

He understands what you are going through.

If you read about His life, you will see it was no cake walk, but if you will walk with Him and obey Him, you will find a greater reward than you could ever imagine (Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 12:2-3, 7-11).

4. I want more for you.

God created marriage and sex for your enjoyment. Sex was created to bind us together within the covenant of marriage, and it has been that way from the beginning. Anything else is less than what God wants.

Sin is separation; from God, from one another, and from our best selves. Jesus will not stop bringing it to our attention because we will miss out on the deepest experiences in life if sin is left unaddressed. You may think Jesus is trying to take the one thing you enjoy or spoil your fun, but that is not the case. The reason He blessed our love for one another is because He wants what is best for you. Love overcomes our separation.

Jesus wants everyone to be included. When you reject your LGBTQ sisters and brothers, you are rejecting Him.

Ignore the political arguments, the protestors and the yelling. Jesus wants you to trust Him.

Trust that He has good things in store for you. Trust that He wants what is best for you. Before you decide that what you feel is right, decide if you trust Him (Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 3:17-21; 1 Timothy 2:4).

5. I will be here for you.

You may disagree with Jesus’ thoughts on love and commitment, but He will not turn away from you.

You may enjoy the life you live right now, even if it is a rejection of God’s love and Jesus’ teachings. Jesus understands your hesitation to make changes. He does not give up on us.

For a long time now, people have disagreed with Him, yelled at Him and run from Him, and He patiently waits. Jesus is patient with us because He wants you to know Him.

Jesus wants you to live a life that is full and abundant. When you are worn out from doing things your way, He will be here. Turn to Him and ask for help, and He will be there before you can blink.

Jesus wants what is best for you, and He wants you to experience a full life.

Jesus is not concerned with winning an argument or forcing you to do something you don’t want to do. Jesus wants you to know that your relationship with Him is better than anything else out there.

Until you reach that point, He will be here patiently drawing you to Himself (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Peter 5:7; Hosea 14).

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