To those on my right, I want to assure you that our theology will remain soundly orthodox. We will not reinvent sexual morality off the latest re-contextualization claims. The historic truth of scripture is as secure today as ever. The justice movements that believe theological collapse is the only way to heal injustice miss the scriptural truth that we can radically love and care for people even as we hold to orthodoxy. Yet if God’s Word has an absolute message for LGBT+ people, we better get ready because it also has an absolute message for us. God abhors dishonest scales. He will not be mocked.
To those on my left, I want to assure you that an orthodox theology does not “have to” mean that we are hateful or intolerant. In this new day, I am here to say that we will never compromise our values but we will flexibly adjust our practices in order to ensure that the Gospel message reaches LGBT+ people in our church family – and beyond. Even when truth remains firm, love can and must bend. Do not ever believe that holding to a certain truth means you cannot radically love people just as they are. This, my friends, is exactly what God has done for us. He loved us while we were yet sinners, and He continues to love us today even as we remain sinners. This balance of love and truth elevates the Gospel: it does not water the Gospel down.
To LGBT+ loved ones in our church family, I want to say one thing: you are welcome here. We invite you to seek and serve Christ in this place. We invite you to find a life community where believers study God’s Word, worship, pray, serve, dine and fellowship together during the week. Come seek Jesus’ love and truth along with the rest of us. The ground at the foot of the Cross is flat. “Come to me,” Jesus says. This invitation is for you just as much as it is for anyone else in this world – or this church. There is a place for you here.
The Gospel either demands that we surrender judgmental boundaries that exclude LGBT+ people from this church; or else it demands that we apply the same strict boundary to anyone who is using porn or has divorced and remarried in an unbiblical manner. Take your pick. My choice is to let all the sheep gather to hear the promises and the prohibitions of the Good Shepherd. We will not tilt the Gospel to our favor. This is not some middle ground compromise to try to get people to like us; this is the raw Gospel in its most unbiased form that honors the way of Jesus Christ.
Yet this same Gospel that allows for a reasonable self-determination that one is a follower of Jesus does not allow for any of us to have a “self-determined” attitude in the Church. The posture of “Christ follower” is one of submission and humility: we are not to abuse the latitude God grants us. Just as judgment must go, so must advocacy. Our mission is not to promote LGBT+ causes in this church – just as it is not our mission to promote political causes against the Gay Community. In this church, our identity is transcended by a larger, holistic identity: we are children of God. Period.
While we will – for the sake of generous welcome and hospitality – respect the reasonable right of each one of us to self-determine that we are followers of Jesus, that increases my responsibility to teach in very clear terms that it is a dangerous game to become bold, arrogant and self-determined before a Holy God. Let each one of us come humbly to the cross not demanding our rights; but surrendering our lives to the Savior of our soul. Our Savior is also Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Put simply, self-determination does not really exist for the Christ follower. We are called to empty ourselves; to give our whole lives over to our King. As I teach this scriptural reality in increasing measure, it is for the health of the entire church; it will target no one sinner.
This has been Part 3 of 4. Join me tomorrow as I bring this sermon to a close.
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