When I hear of families who will not welcome LGBT+ loved ones home, it grieves my heart. I must stress that most evangelical families are very loving. Yet even for them, they can worry about violating the scriptures. For this reason, my “Christmas Post” offers a biblical basis for welcoming gay loved ones home.
But first, a troubling question. Do we ever worry about inviting any other loved ones home? The answer is no! Our fears nearly always are about gay loved ones. I find myself asking: why aren’t we bothered by porn user loved ones? Statistically speaking, it is because we are not so bothered by ourselves.
Our problem is this: we look for the sins we don’t struggle with and develop a moral high ground that tempts us into judgment. I guess you could say that – like porn – judgment is addictive. Watch out! Actually, that is exactly what Jesus said to the Pharisees. Watch out!
Since ancient times, exclusion has been the judgment tool of choice. In comes Jesus with a stark message we find in Matthew 7:1-2. He WARNS (not the “gentle” Jesus we imagine) that we will receive the same measure that we offer others. If we refuse mercy; if we express judgment through exclusion; if we view others as particularly vile; then all the born again claims in the world will not rescue us from God’s wrath.
In Romans 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul expands this teaching in a plea: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience not
realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward
repentance.” Paul reminds us that “we do the same things.” Our problem, then, is that we do not allow some people to draw near to Jesus-in-us. We exclude them thinking we are holy, but there is a hole in our thinking.
I think this is why Jesus tends to talk not about external holiness but inner kingdom fruitfulness. In John 15, He says that a “good” tree is known by its’ “good” fruit. In this extended
passage, Jesus hammers away at religion by stressing that faith is not achieved by a religious standard – much less layering upon others a standard that we ourselves are unable to attain. To the contrary, kingdom fruitfulness is nothing more – and nothing less – than allowing Christ to fill us and spill from us as we engage others. To take Him in and not breath Him out is false religion. Jesus says false or fruitless trees will be torn to pieces and burned. Yikes!
With all this in mind, I tend to fear being guilty of “religion” much more than I fear my sins. I do not want to minimize either – we need
to repent – but repentance of sin should never be followed by judgment of others that fail to do likewise. Rather, we should allow Christ’s salvation within us to be
expressed as a radical extension of “God’s kindness that led us to
repentance.” Why repent myself of very difficult sins to overcome only to then be found guilty of the judgment that God just spared me from? This is neither wise – nor safe!
Surely we will fail. Just as we sin, we will unintentionally judge others at times. When this happens, we must admit this and then adjust our actions, attitudes and words. This is not the danger we face: we get in trouble with Jesus when we allow a continual attitude of judgment to harden our hearts against others. When those who have been “forgiven much” withhold God’s “kindness, patience, and tolerance” from others, Jesus says we become ungrateful (or even wicked) servants. These warnings keep being directed at us! Watch out…
When this really sinks in, a new insight sprouts inside my heart. I begin to celebrate that Jesus welcomes sinners, because He dearly loves them and knows their need for salvation. This realization flowers a new humility in which I realize my own impurities and the religious games I attempt to play. I need mercy.
We are left with a simple question: which “Jesus” bleeds out of us? The Jesus who invites loved ones home? Or the spirit of Pharisee who demands others to clean up before they come? The only time we are ever called to flee from or expel sinners is when we – or others – are tempted to join them. Otherwise, we are called to reflect Jesus-in-us to this world as it is – and to sinners as they are.
The only hope for
any of us is that the Holy Spirit will invade our hearts and cause us
to be renewed through washing, repentance and spiritual surrender. People do not achieve this. It is the gift of God, so that no man may boast. We cannot coerce this salvation experience to occur
in others’ lives: we can only reflect the One who has come to dwell inside us.
Grateful servants who have experienced the miraculous arrival of Christ are all too ready to welcome anyone – especially loved ones! – home for the holidays. First, because we love as Christ has loved us. Second, because we love as a parent or sibling naturally is made to love. And third, because we know that we have been forgiven much.
This Christmas, may your loved one come home and encounter the radiant beauty of Jesus Christ living fruitfully inside you. This is more powerful – oh, and more biblical – than exclusion ever will be. Amen.
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