When being offended becomes the new Christian virtue

UnoffendableCall me Scrooge but part of me is starting to really dread Christmas. Not because of the pressure to have the most Pinterestable decorations or the busyness or the cost. But because Christmas seems to have become another way for Christians to be offended.

You know what I’m talking about. I won’t name names but some of you have posted the whiny meme’s urging retailers to keep the “Christ in Christmas” or suggested there is a “war on Christmas.” Do we really believe stores sell stuff for any other reason than to make money?

And then there’s the latest Red Cup Starbucks hysteria. This is a conversation that shouldn’t even exist. As if the snowflakes or ornaments they previously had on their cups made them somehow holier. I don’t get it!

I can smack my forehead and say, “What?” feeling bewildered by the silliness. But actually my heart is sad. I’m grieved when Jesus is reduced to a pawn of propaganda.

An argument could be made that the Christmas holiday wasn’t even on Jesus’ mind while here on earth! He never told his followers to observe the day of his birth in any way, especially not with any particular color of cups. If a day was supposed to be set aside to celebrate Jesus birth you can believe the God who prescribed, in detail, the Jewish festivals of the old testament would have made mention of the fact. But he didn’t.

What Jesus did command his followers to do was to wash feet, humbly serving each other without ego or pride. He did tell his followers to observe the Lord’s Supper. Setting aside a remembrance of the great sacrifice he made to break sin’s curse in our lives and remind us the best was yet to come. He instructed us to care for orphans, poor, and neglected people. He instructed us to make disciples. And he showed us that happens through meaningful, personal, time consuming conversations, not boycotts, pickets, rants, or unlikes.

Jesus is humble. His birth was a means to set in motion rescue for mankind, not institute a holiday to himself. Celebrating Christmas, even for Christians, is optional. What is not optional for those committed to following Christ is the expression of love through the nature of Christ himself. And this is his nature:

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23

This season, before you are offended that someone has slighted Jesus by forgetting his birthday or is celebrating it the wrong way, remember he is far less concerned about Christmas than with his people loving others.

Honestly the words, “war on Christmas” shouldn’t be uttered by our mouths. What ridiculousness. There isn’t a war on Christmas. There is a war on humanity. And it’s a war waged by sin. Sin enslaves people to selfish, broken, distorted thinking and behaving. Why would we expect people who haven’t been pulled out of the pit of spiritual death by the breathtaking tenderness of a true blue hero to celebrate his birthday the “right way,” whatever that is, or any way at all. And how will they meet this hero if not through us?

If our dead hearts have been resuscitated by grace with the life giving breath of God himself then we should be the most merciful people alive.

When I see people like Joshua Feuerstein (look him up, I won’t link to him in this post) starting campaigns to have people write Merry Christmas on a red cup so they can feel more spiritual or patriotic or right or something I can only assume they’ve drunk the coolaid. The coolaid that equates morality with knowing Jesus, the coolaid that has turned life back into law, the coolaid that values outward appearance more that intimacy with Jesus, the coolaid with an appearance of godliness but that produces death. The coolaid that uses Jesus’ words but is really a religion of our flesh. Don’t drink the coolaid. Because this is the other part of the Galatians passage:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-20 (Interesting how the highlighted words are listed along with drunkenness, idolatry, and sorcery.)

If you feel tempted to post a status of outrage or offense because someone gave you the wrong colored cup, or wished you a happy holiday, or “waged a war” on Christmas then you may have missed the whole point and could be in worse shape than your offender. And really that applies to far more than Christmas, it applies to every area of life where we may take offense.

Don’t think you can rage against your fellow man over such silliness and not grieve the heart of God who loves his enemies with a heart stopping, blood spilling, sacrificial love!

The ancient Hebrews were accused of going through the motions but being far from the heart of God. “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings,” Hosea 6:6.

Don’t follow in their footsteps and turn Christmas, or even Christianity, itself into an idol. When Christmas becomes your idol you cannot reflect the heart of Christ, you lose the whole purpose of what he was doing here in the first place.

Jesus never pointed out the ways people offended him. And he had more right than anyone to be offended. Instead he laid down his rights and invited people to come.

When “offended” becomes the new Christian virtue I think it’s safe to say we’ve lost the heart of Christ.

Someone Kind

Kindness is key3In the last four weeks we’ve talked about receiving God’s kindness, being kind to ourselves, being kind to others, and receiving other’s kindness. I’m going to finish out this month of kindness with a story. It won’t surprise you, I’m sure, that it’s about my mother. (If you know me, you know my mom passed away in September.) Over a lifetime she learned all of the aspects of kindness I’ve mentioned.

Discord, anger, tension, cruelty, sarcasm, or strife caused her pain. Her heart soaked up drops of gracious beauty with a thirst akin to drought burdened soil waiting for the downpour.

At times I watched her draw in her heart, flinching with fear at the fast paced expectation of the world. It’s loud voice yelling be, do, learn, know, perform. She was just a wife, just a mom. But how can you just be anything extraordinary? You have to work at that. And she did.

It took her a long time to learn how to be kind to herself. A long time to recognize that until she had right expectations of herself it would be hard to have right expectations of anyone in her world. But, God is kindness itself. He took the time to teach her. And when she did learn that lesson, her naturally peaceful, quiet, courteous, beauty loving heart turned into a force of nature.

A force that stood up in the face of the loss, neglect, ignorance, selfishness, brokenness, and abandonment she found in others. She smoothed out rough feathers and quenched fire with a word. She could do that without fear or threat to herself because she knew who she belonged to. She knew she was loved. She had learned kindness at the core level.

I know I’ve worried her, watching me dance and leap and run and pout trying to figure out who to be. She tried to tell me, you’re extraordinary, you’re a mom, you’re a leader, you’re wonderful just being you. But I have listened too often to the fast paced expectation of the world; be, do, learn, know, perform. In part because I saw her struggle with not being enough. I wanted to be more, for her, because she never felt she could be. But that’s a lie too. That’s not what kindness says, that’s not what she really wanted.

Now I know the truth. Even though I have imagined conversing with great minds, writing award winning words, inspiring thousands of people, the truth is – none of that is enough. At the end. When I slip from this world and am measured against eternity I want one word to define me. Kindness. People could say all sorts of things about me but as long as they can say I’m kind, it’s enough.

And now I have the hard task ahead of learning that lesson. To put down rocks of judgement. To elevate the life of another over my own. To have the power of love lit in my heart so that kindness becomes a force of nature, able to stand in the face of misunderstanding, injustice, fear, pride, longing, and even whining.

My mother was kind. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Who do you know that is kind, who has the well-being and good of others in mind? How have they impacted you? 

Let’s pray:
Father, thank you for the kindness of your Son. He is our ultimate inspiration. Thank you too for the truly kind people you have put in our lives. We want to be like them. We’ve received encouragement, forgiveness, and hope at their hands and we want to turn around and give it away ourselves. Ignite your kind nature in our hearts we pray. Amen.

Kindness ~ A gift worth receiving

Kindness is key3So far this month we’ve talked about kindness as a gift from God, to ourselves, and to others. This week we’re going to talk about receiving kindness. That may seem a little odd. How hard is it to receive someone’s kindness? But stick with me.

Have you ever had someone offer to clean your house when you had had a surgery, or watch your kids, or bring a meal, or drive you to a doctor’s appointment, or any number of things and brushed them off because you were too uncomfortable to let them that close.

I have. My pride has kept me from letting people near enough to help.

We American’s like to lean hard on our own independence. We will {fill in the blank} if it kills us!

I’ve been guilty of keeping people at arms length when they just wanted to express love to me and my family. And I’ve been frustrated when people have done the same thing to me.

Here’s the tricky thing about kindness, it needs a recipient. It’s hard to do good if there isn’t a person on the receiving end. That’s true of God’s kindness to us as well. He has stretched out his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation to the whole world. The problem – many people refuse it. “No, no God, I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you. I got this. It’s no trouble, I can handle it on my own!” But that’s not how life works. Everyone is in need of God’s kindness, and very often we’re in need of each other’s kindness as well.

It’s funny how life works that way. Give and take, need and gift, loneliness and love, brokenness and healing, hurt and forgiveness. It’s the nature of our humanity. We rail against it, in our thoughts and our actions. But it doesn’t change a thing. We are needy people.

I get it. I dislike being in need. I have lived a total of three years and seven months in other family’s homes. That is a long time. I didn’t plan it. But our family has needed a place to stay at various times for various reasons. And every one of those needs has been met with kindness.

Here’s what I’ve learned from being in need: Receiving is as much a spiritual discipline as giving. You can be a great giver and a lousy receiver. But both matter. Here’s why.

We reflect the nature of Jesus in both aspects. Jesus not only came to give great gifts, he also put himself in a place of need. During his ministry he was poor and allowed women to travel with him to meet his needs. Give and take creates a sense of community.

When we refuse someone’s gift of kindness pride is often at the root of the refusal. On the other hand humility and gratitude are at the heart of a gracious receiver.

Also, when we rely on the body of Christ to meet our physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs we are telling God we trust him. The body is God’s primary tool for meeting the needs of his people. When we recognize that we honor him.

Are you a gracious recipient of kindness? Or do you brush people off, embarrassed by the attention and determined to care for things on your own? You can reflect the heart of Jesus not only by being kind, but also by graciously receiving kindness from others.

Let’s pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the kindness you have showered on us, help us also to receive the gift of kindness from others. Give us hearts of humility and gratitude. We want to be healthy members of your body, learning to give and receive. Thank you. Amen.

Kindness ~ A gift for others

Kindness is key3For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about kindness. First focusing on God’s gift of kindness to us and next the importance of giving the gift of kindness to ourselves. God’s kindness to us and our ability to be kind to ourselves, are important building blocks to being kind to each other. They pave the way.

I have struggled with writing this post far more than I expected. Which surprises me. How hard is it to say be kind!

In our day of media saturation, diversity, and polarized politics, kindness seems illusive. It’s seen as weakness, or acquiescing, or even losing faith. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our relationships spread out in ripples starting with those closest to us, family, and moving out broader and broader; co-workers, church, community, region, country, world. We cannot neglect kindness close to home any more than in how we treat humanity broadly.

I would like to say I’ve learned this lesson, of passing kindness out to everyone as if it were as free and plentiful as air. But I haven’t. My face burns with shame at the fire hot words that all too often seer my children’s hearts. I can be stingy with the gift of kindness, even when I’ve received it in abundance.

Until we understand our absolute need for God’s kindness to us, and how little we actually deserve it, kindness will clog in our hearts at important moments. 

Kindness is crucial. It shapes hearts. Our kids are thirsty for it. Our spouses crave it. The lady in the checkout with the sad eyes would welcome it. The hard heart is surprised by it. We cannot neglect kindness. (I am preaching to myself right there, if you need the sermon too, then you’re welcome!)

I think the hardest people to be kind to is those who see life very differently than we do.

Romans 2:4, Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

That’s a shocking concept isn’t it. What leads people to repentance? Judgement, fear, condemnation, shame a sound talking to? No, kindness. If God is content to approach the world’s sin problem with kindness instead of an angry fist, shouldn’t we as his followers be also? Don’t get me wrong, I recognize other passages in scripture talk about God’s wrath. And I believe he will judge and punish all who have not received his gift of forgiveness. But this is the age of mercy, the age of wrath is yet to come.

Mercy is at the heart of all God does. We are most like God when we are merciful. – Alice Smith

I have been in many situations that have shown me the value of kindness. None more clearly than one late summer day in Alabama. Taking my son to school I passed a young person walking in the same direction. A twinge in my heart said, “give them a ride.” I said, “no way!” But after dropping Max off and heading back home I knew I had to obey. As the person, whom I assumed to be a tall, willowy young woman, came into sight the song “Jesus Friend of Sinners” came on the radio. I pulled over.

When the young man looked into the car window my heart skipped a beat. I offered a ride. Which he accepted. And I drove him to Wal-Mart in the next town over. At the time North Carolina was boiling with the debate of gay marriage. My family was at odds. Members firmly on opposite sides. And here sat this young man, painted fingernails, eyeliner, and a broken heart. He told me a story of abandonment. It cracked my heart and my pride wide open.

After dropping him off, and inviting him to our church potluck, I headed back home. My mind was reeling. My ideology had been confronted by a person. On the drive home I prayed, and this is what God said as clearly as if he had spoken. “I wanted you to see my plan of kindness in that young man’s life. He had prayed for a ride and I used you as the answer. You were meant to serve him, because I had purposed to serve him. I have chosen him for my kindness.”

This young man broke the mold of who I thought deserved God’s kindness, of whose prayers God would answer. God had called me to be a witness of his love.

I wanted to fall on my face in shame and worship. The God who loves everyone, not just a select few, was bigger than I had ever seen before.

Now, my understanding of God’s plan for human sexuality according to his word has not changed. If anything I am more passionate about holding out the truth of reconciliation with God, ourselves, others, and all of creation. But my understanding of what that looks like changed radically. Kindness. Mercy. Compassion. They took on new meaning.

Can I tell you; I would have baked the wedding cake in Oregon for the gay couple, and I would have asked to attend. If we believe the gospel accounts of Jesus, then I think it’s very possible he would have too. Not because he doesn’t call people to holy living, but because he shows up where they are first.

And that’s the heart of kindness. Showing up. Show up for the conversation at the dinner table with your precious family and use words of love. Show up at the hospital and cheer your friend. Show up in the orphanage and listen to the orphan and the worker doing a harder job than you can imagine. Show up to the jail, the run down house, the food stamp office. Show up to the boss’ Christmas party and spread gratitude, joy, and when necessary sobriety. Show up. Not to correct or criticize or condemn. Show up to be kind.

Can I also say; the strength of the church’s kindness is more important than whether we “win” this country back or not. The country was never actually ours. Every kingdom rests solely in God’s hands. The kingdom of heaven is ours, and that’s better than any country. We are not responsible for the government. We are responsible to living lives of faith, of praying for leaders, of clinging to hope, of overflowing with joy, of loving our spouses and children well, of sharing the good news that Jesus came not to condemn but to save, of being KIND.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

Please no more posts about those “idiots” in any political camp. No more outrage or shock when broken, sin sick, people act like it. No more pointing fingers and calling outs. No more zingers, and poking fun. No more claiming “my rights!” If we tend to our own holiness, and goodness knows we need to, and offer kindness in Jesus name our light will be radiant.

No one is going to have a conversation with a person shouting at them. If you want to make a difference. Set the table for conversation. Be kind.

Are there people it’s hard for you to be kind to? Black, white, foreign, conservative, liberal, Muslim, atheist, Pentecostal, poor, rich, sister-in-law, husband? It can be anyone, we all have our prejudices and weaknesses. If so, have you accepted God’s generous gift of kindness to you? Are you willing to extend kindness to yourself? Maybe you need to start there.

Let’s pray: Father, the evidence of walking by your Spirit is kindness. We can not live kind lives on our own. I know I can’t. It’s only by your Spirit. Won’t you inspire us with your kindness, help us be kind to ourselves, and give us eyes to see opportunities to be kind to others this week. Thank you. Amen.

{Next week we’ll be talking about receiving kindness from others.}

Kindness ~ A gift to ourselves

Kindness is key3Last week I declared October to be the month of kindness! I wrote about God’s kindness towards us and we saw the word kind is defined this way: Kind, gracious, kindhearted, kindly – imply a sympathetic attitude toward others, and a willingness to do good or give pleasure. Kind implies a deep-seated characteristic shown either habitually or on occasion by considerate behavior: a kind father. (Dictionary.com)

This week I want to ask the question; how kind are you to yourself? Our flawed and prideful nature can be quick to make excuses for our mistakes and weaknesses. But how many of us actually have a humble, healthy view of ourselves? One that is kind.

It is difficult to see ourselves correctly until we first understand how God sees us. Last week we saw that God is kind toward us, willing to do good, sympathetic, considerate. Psalm 103:13-14 says:

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

I love that, “he remembers that we are dust.” He understands that just as we’re catching on life is over, it’s a breath. He is considerate to our plight. Not that he doesn’t expect us to walk in holiness, he provides all we need to live a godly life. But he understands how hard it is for us to live against our nature and according to his perfect one.

I have to confess often I am not kind to myself. Sometimes I’m lazy, or excuse my behavior, self indulgent even. But that’s not the same as kind.

Being kind means recognizing what I am, my limitations and strengths, and summing myself up accurately. It means seeing myself as God’s child. Forgiving myself when I need it. It means believing God has forgiven me when I ask. It means celebrating my successes in a healthy way. It means caring for my body. It means living up to God’s expectations, which are right and good, and not other people’s. It means backing away from the sharp edge of comparison’s blade.

Maybe you have messed up big time, or you think you have no value. Or maybe you feel just fine until you look around and compare yourself to everyone else. Repeating your flaws or mistakes is not extending kindness to yourself. Driving yourself to perfection isn’t kind. Your children, family, and friends are observing. Those broken words, repeated over your life, will teach them that if you can’t be kind to you it’s safe to assume you can’t be kind to them either. Children will learn those broken habits from a parent.

The kindness we are able to receive from God, and extend to ourselves, will have a powerful impact on our relationships. That’s a principle of community. How we walk with God affects others.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:12-13

If God has called us to clothe ourselves with kindness and treat our brothers and sisters with such character, I think it’s safe to say he would expect us to extend that attitude to ourselves. If we can’t embrace the goodness of God for ourselves, it will be hard to extend it to others.

I’ve seen time and again bitter women making others miserable because they have been unable to grab hold of God’s forgiveness and grace in their own lives. They can’t be kind to others because they haven’t learned to be kind to themselves.

I regularly fight the broken tape playing in my head that says, “you’re not good enough, you are uneducated, you make no money, you aren’t a good mother, you aren’t wanted, you don’t matter, you’re a mess.” I think I will hear those words until I die. That in and of itself isn’t a sin. The defeat comes when I don’t counteract those words with truth. God has said that I’m forgiven, accepted, redeemed, loved, wanted, equipped, grafted in, sung over, empowered, indwelt by his Spirit, victorious, and destined for a glorious eternity!

I am most kind to myself when I shut out the lies of my scarred heart, broken sin nature, and a twisted society, and instead recite the truth over myself. Until I do that I can’t recite the truth to others when they need it, and they are going to need it.

Accepting God’s kindness and being kind to ourselves are the first steps to being kind to others.

Do you have a hard time being kind to yourself? Does that affect the way you treat others?

Let’s pray:
Father, it can be hard to be kind to ourselves. But that grieves your heart because you love us. Will you help us grab hold of our worth in your sight and treat ourselves with kindness? Thank you for setting the standard of love. We’re grateful. Amen.

{Next week we’ll talk about extending kindness to others.}

I know God loves me because of you

“I know God loves me because he gave me you!” My mom used to say that to me, often. As a child I knew I was one of her gifts. An expression of God’s love. Because she told me so.

My husband and I have served in church ministry for fifteen years. We’ve experienced our share of joy and pain in church life. No doubt if you’ve hung out in churches for any length of time you have too. Sometimes I have dwelt too long on the hurts, allowing them to eclipse the amazing love that has been poured out on our lives.

But there are moments that bring me back to the joy of family life. Those seasons when I just know I couldn’t make it without my brothers and sisters, and I wouldn’t want to.

It takes all of us, filled with God’s Spirit, reflecting his nature, to make up the person of Jesus here on earth. And that’s exactly what’s happened in my life. Sure, occasionally we get out of sync with one another, sometimes we’re more focused on serving self than on worshiping Jesus. But the reality is, it’s with YOU, my brothers and sisters in the family of God, that I most experience Jesus.

Looking back it’s easy to see now that in every church I’ve shown up to, Jesus was there waiting on me, he was in each of you! I know God loves me because he gave me you!

So many times I have been loved by Jesus through the skin of humans. I’ve been forgiven, corrected, encouraged, enjoyed, cared for, prayed over, taught, celebrated, embraced. In every single season of my life.

I’m convinced, and I believe the book of Ephesians agrees, that we cannot fully love God or experience his love without the relationship of fellow followers of Christ. When we’re hurt it’s easy to pull back from the church and want to do our own God thing independently. But that’s not actually a viable option left open for us in God’s word.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6

I’m amazed when I look at each of you and find Jesus smiling back at me through your eyes! That is truly a gift!

I’ve found it to be especially true over these last weeks that have been so hard. As my family has said goodbye to my precious mama, Jesus, through the church, has wrapped his arms around us. You have prayed, and written, and sent food, and showed up, and prayed, and encouraged, and cried with us, and prayed. And I’ve known Jesus more deeply because of you all. I truly know God loves me because he gave me you. Thank you.

Do you take your role in the body of Christ seriously? Without your presence people are missing out.

What made me sad about the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage

I feel sad. Sick at heart. You may too. We’ve all been bombarded with noise and information, opinion and responses these last couple of days on the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage. Of course that’s my fault, I didn’t turn off the computer when I should have.

Granted, some of the responses to the news were very good ones, well thought out and expressed kindly. But many of them weren’t. Some of them were lazy, just quoting the same bible passages we all already know. Loudly. Some were outright hateful, hateful I tell you. People are talking about the holiness of Jesus in one breath and calling fellow human beings idiots in the next sentence. It just should not be.

Early on I purposed to be silent on the matter. People who know me most likely know what I think, or, if they don’t, and actually care, can ask. Honestly, even now I still have no comment on the decision itself. It’s made. It is what it is. I truly don’t feel wise enough, nor vehement enough, to hazard a meaningful response to the ruling.

But, if you’re still with me, and actually care at all, I will tell you what I do have something to say about. I’ll tell you what absolutely crushed my heart and made me crazy. It was the comment thread on The Christian and Missionary Alliance’s​ response to the ruling on marriage. (That is my church denomination.) As a communication person I know that wording, timing, and tone at a moment like this is everything; so I probably would have chosen a different way to send out that statement, and would have shared something different for the general public. But that in and of itself I guess is irrelevant now.

It was what happened in the comment thread underneath that got to me. Hate. Spewed left and right. Christians who had an opportunity, right in their hands, to demonstrate humility, grace, charity, and goodwill shoved it away. And fear, Christians expressing their dismay, their woe is me end-times paranoia, contempt, and superiority.

Just a month ago there we all sat. At national Council, thousands of us, for our biggest gathering of the year. Beautiful, resplendent in praise. A family. The Alliance. Together! I was so proud, so grateful, so amazed to be a part of this family. So hopeful for where God is leading us and filling us with his Spirit. And then the comments on that statement were like mud flung on white fabric, black and hideous.

Of course people in support of gay marriage flung some of the mud. At least one gay man tossed grace our way. But so many Christians just spewed. So many had nothing beautiful, lovely, praiseworthy, excellent, or hopeful to say. I don’t know how many of the commenters were actually Alliance people, some were and some weren’t.

Ugh! It made me so sad. I cringed like I myself had been slapped with every harsh word from one of “us” to one of “them.” And I didn’t want to be one of “us” anymore if that’s what “we” sound like. I know what it’s like to have a bible thumped across the head. It wounds and shames, it has at times made me want to run away. I would rather offer an invitation than a judgement. A place of refreshing than a poke in the eye. Because that’s what I want to receive.

So many people have been quoting Romans 1. But what about Romans 2:4 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” I could weep thinking about God’s patience and forbearance with me. Why wouldn’t I forebear with someone else? Why would I get in the way of God’s kindness?

There are so many things I don’t know, but I do know this. I love people who are gay.  Specific people, people with names, people who are real, people I’ve touched and who have touched me. Being gay or straight doesn’t define us, being human does. And we should all be able to relate on that level. I know that Jesus laid down his life for me, his rights, and his comfort, to extend love – his righteousness on my behalf. My sin and grossness didn’t make him unclean, his holiness purified me. So, if I need to lay down my rights, my life, my desires for a gay person, to be able to extend love to them, then I expect that Jesus will show me how.

What affect will this decision have on America? On the church? I don’t truly know, and neither do you. But I do know the effect many of the words I saw lobbed by Christians at one another, and strangers, have had. They have caused pain. They have not spoken of the mercy of God, or the kindness of Jesus, or even of his holy nature. I don’t feel the need to stand in the gap and repent for the country, I feel the need to stand in the gap and repent for the church.