Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015 - along the Way ...

Happy St Patrick's Day!  Since Patrick was the one responsible for bringing the good news to Ireland, so many years ago, I believe the entire body of Christ can honor him today with gratitude to God!
To God be the glory!  Great things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do!

As I consider what it means to bring the good news to our world today, I struggle with the best response to those who live with same-sex attraction.  I believe the church needs to make room for people of all backgrounds, orientations, and lifestyles.  By making room I do not mean the church should change its standards, but rather that we should make room for people to encounter the living God, so that He can transform all of us through the Holy Spirit's power by faith in Jesus Christ!

This morning I was reading in I Timothy 1, and I was struck by the juxtaposition of Paul's words to Timothy regarding the law in verses 8-11 and his words regarding his own need for grace in verses 12-17.

On the one hand, Paul says, "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.   We also know that the law is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me."

The law (think Ten Commandments, Leviticus, and the summary of the law: love God and love others) is not made for the righteous.  If we are righteous, we will do what is right under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and therefore we do not need the law.

Yet the law is good when used properly, that is for those who rebel against God and do whatever they choose.   The law shows us our wrongdoing and directs us back to the path of righteousness.

This is where verses 15-16 come in.  Paul says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."

Jesus came to save sinners, like me, and by His mercy and grace He has saved me, and by His Holy Spirit He is leading me into paths of righteousness.   The same Paul who made these statements also says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1)   Paul was made new through his encounter with Christ, and he became an example of righteousness, not perfection, but the righteousness Christ brings to all who believe.

So what does this have to do with people living with same-sex attraction?

First, I must admit I do not understand what people living with same-sex attraction are feeling or going through on a daily basis.  I imagine it would be very difficult to remain obedient to God, and have to be alone all through life.  I admit I do not understand their pain.

Second, I am certain that God's grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my and our weakness.  Although the law does not change, and is useful when used properly, I rely on the grace and mercy of God for our salvation and for daily living.

Third, in Christ I am my brother's and sister's keeper.  At some point I need to hold difficult conversations in a way that is loving - loving both the person (not dishonoring others) and loving God's truth (not delighting in evil but rejoicing with the truth).

In the end, walking the way of righteousness together is difficult.  We live in a broken world, and it will remain broken until Jesus returns to make all things new.   So I pray for daily grace to know how to live with integrity (showing love while valuing truth) in a broken world.  

I invite you to share your thoughts as well.   This is a very sensitive issue, and we need to be open to learning from each other as we listen to God's word together along the Way ...

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