In part one I reflected on a scripture from 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 where we lean how God is the God of All Comfort. I belive that it’s part of our commission as the church to reach out and comfort those who are hurting. Specifically I belive that those with same-sex attractions as well as the self-identified Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community, should able to come to the church for comforting and healing.
Now I’m looking again at God’s message of Hope to all people. It’s a message that reminds us that if we use our free-will to choose HIS WAYS that there is hope for these hopelessly human lives that we now live. I’m challenging us as the Chruch to find ways to open God’s real-life love to people who live in our current soceity.
This is God’s message to his people concerning those who choose to come to Him:
“Make sure no outsider who now follows GOD ever has occasion to say, “GOD put me in second-class. I don’t really belong.’ And make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, “I’m damaged goods. I don’t really belong.'” (Isaiah 56:3 The Message)
God who looks out for everyone addresses those who are already ‘his people’… this could be looked at as the Church today. He wants the ‘outsider’ not to feel like ‘an outsider’ when they are among us. I’m not saying that this is an easy task. But who is going to minister to the mutilated? So often we talk about people with tatoos, with extreme piercings, and even the transgendered… and we do so with such disgust… but how will we make them feel that they could ever have a place in the church? Some changes are permanant– they are mutilated if you will (for the sake of the scripture). But God says that these too should be made to feel they belong.
I’m challenging myself to ask these hard questions because it forces me to confront myself in how I view people.
In my previous post, some were concerned about the issue of repentance. I believe it’s clear that God does call all of humanity to repent, to turn away from sin… this is a process that is prompted in our hearts by God, but we RESPOND to him with our decisions.
For GOD says: “To the mutilated who keep my Sabbaths and choose what delights me and keep a firm grip on my covenant…” (Isaiah 56:4 The Message) (Emphasis Added)
Yes, we can choose how we RESPOND to our feelings and desires… EVEN if we didn’t choose to have those desires or feelings. This isn’t the old message that has been echoed by many of condemnation and rejection. God is welcoming all people to himself… it’s my prayer that we join in the grand welcoming party in our churches and figure out make that real in our ministries.
I’ll bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the “insiders,’ to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar. Oh yes, my house of worship will be known as a house of prayer for all people.” (Isaiah 56:7) (Emphasis Added)
People are hurting and rejected in the very place where they should be healed and accepted. As the Church, we must move beyond REACTIONS to the GLBT demands in the political and social marketplaces, and begin to RESPOND in a way that will welcome people to reconcile their relationships with God and with others. It is in relationship with God that I belive we find deliverance and change — as God works this out in our lives… in his own timing. Who could convince you better than God if your sexuality is being expressed in its ideal form? In openness, honesty, and freedom we find out that God’s grace really is sufficient and that we can become all that God desires for us.
This is a beatuful passage of scripture, please read Isaiah 56 at BibleGateway.com
Again, the comments section is open to thoughtful comments and questions — if you agree or disagree, your views are welcome! I’m working out my salvation… join me in my journey- we can learn something together!
Saturday March 11, 2006 – 12:55am (CST)
Currently there is an uproar that our nation (and our world) is in right now when it comes to rights for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people. I’m not even prepared to argue the pros and cons of the rights that they are fighting for: including Marriage, Hate-crime protection, and adoption rights; but I do want to address the topic from a standpoint that isn’t often heard:
What is the responsibility of the Church in regard to where things are today? Right now, much of the opposition for these changes in our laws and society is coming from Christian / Faith-based groups. However, I’m wondering if WE as the church are now reacting to the cries of GLBT people rather than responding the needs of hurting people that have been illigitimized and ignored for years.
What happens when we as the church DON’T comfort hurting people?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. ” (NIV) 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Our God is the God of all comfort… as believers, he comforts us in all of the troubles of life… so that we can comfort others out of a personal understanding. I believe this to be a key part of our commission to the world… that we extend the love and comfort that God provides to a hurting people.
However, right or wrong, GLBT people have not been comforted (for the most part) by the church. Most of us have had the experience of ignoring something only to have it manifest in greater form later down the line. The fear, shame, and rejection that these people have faced in our society have forced them to organize, unite their individual power, and force their voices to be heard– by everyone.
It’s my belief that homosexuality stems from family and societal imbalances that as we grow up form in us a desire for the same sex. I believe that these are real and godly desires being expressed in ways that aren’t God’s intention for humanity. I believe that just as with anything else, we have a choice to act on those desires or not. But I also believe that finding healing and wholeness is a family and societal matter in much the same way that the issue originated.
When I read the Bible, I see God showing love and compassion for a hopelessly MESSED UP (read sinful) humanity… full of all kinds of situations that are less than his ideal for us. But just as we value our free-will, God upholds this gift in us but still gives us the option (through Jesus) to choose a different path– one leading to the original design. In his justice, he pays the price for sin through Jesus, and in his love he redeems us to our original design – the abundant, God-shaped life.
My hope right now is that we as the church take on the commission of compassion … that we be vigilant in offering hope and resources for two under-served groups: 1) Those who have same-sex desires, but believe change is possible or are seeking change and 2) for those who are self-identified as GLBT and are seeking to know Christ. I classify these groups differently even though some may fall into both categories. Jesus came to reconcile us to relationship with the Heavenly Father. If we’re going to stand in opposition of the rights that GLBT groups are fighting for, then we MUST provide alternatives and real support for those who these rights would benefit.
This isn’t a popular view-point, but it’s mine. One thing that I certainly have learned from the GLBT community is that it’s ok to be different and to speak your mind! (lol) So it’s my prayer that we begin to seriously consider how we can allow God to use us to reconcile relationships and restore people in the context of a society where GLBT isn’t going away anytime soon (at least not before Jesus’ return).
Agree or disagree, I hope to hear thoughtful response to any issues raised from this post. Thanks.
Friday March 10, 2006 – 01:23am (CST)