Lead Them Home often stress the importance of ministries and churches to stand up against injustices that LGBT+ people face. LTH team member Ray explores the lessons we can learn from Jesus about leading with justice.
Jesus leads with justice. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is constantly reaching out to both the people regarded as immoral (such as the tax collectors and “sinners”), or the people simply regarded as unclean (the leper, the blind, the poor). In each story, we see only a brief snapshot of the ministry of Jesus as He demonstrates a radical kind of love towards people who have been discarded by society.
While not compromising on issues of righteousness, Jesus allows compassion and relationship to take precedence in His interactions with those on the economic and moral fringes of society. And from this, we can learn two things about leading with justice.
Has No One Returned to Give Praise?
The first is that Jesus reached out to people regardless of whether they ended up following Him. Think about how Jesus compassionately healed ten men with leprosy even though only one came back in faith to give praise to God (Luke 17:11-19). Jesus imposed no belief or faith requirements for His mercy on those who needed mercy.
Jesus imposed no belief or faith requirements for His mercy on those who needed mercy.
I wonder if we could do the same for the LGBT+ community. With LGBT+ teen suicide rates at 4-8 times that of the general population of youth in America, I wonder what it would look like to combat bullying in our schools, homophobia and transphobia in our culture, and workplace discrimination against LGBT+ people. With 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBT+ people, I wonder what it would look like to provide homes and shelter for those who are in need.
Justice is about leveling the playing field for all to come and meet Jesus. It’s about affirming the inherent dignity and worth of every person, and affirming every person’s basic right to food, health, and shelter. It is only within that context of radical love that we can begin to see hearts transformed by the power of the gospel.
It is only within that context of radical love that we can begin to see hearts transformed by the power of the gospel
Why Does He Eat with Tax Collectors and Sinners?
Another radical aspect of leading with justice is its determination to operate outside the obstacles of public scrutiny. Jesus surprises the Pharisees and the teachers of the law when He chooses to invite a tax collector to follow Him and winds up hanging out with an entire community of people regarded as morally corrupt and deficient (Matthew 9:9-13).
Naturally the religious leaders begin to question Jesus’ behavior, going as far as to challenge Jesus’ own integrity (Luke 15:2). Still, Jesus continues to minister all the more faithfully, despite what it might make others think about His moral beliefs. That’s because Jesus knew that having a relationship with those who needed mercy and love was far more important than His personal right to defend His behavior.
What a beautiful picture it would be for churches to do the same in reaching out to the LGBT+ community, being unhindered by the fear of judgment from other religious communities and leaders. What a beautiful picture it would be if we abandoned our image and our need to be “right” all the time, and instead showed compassion to those who need it. We might be called apostate, wayward, or heretical. Jesus was called far worse things.
What a beautiful picture it would be if we abandoned our image and our need to be “right” all the time, and instead showed compassion to those who need it.
Lead With Justice
Jesus reaches out to people regardless of whether or not they turn and follow Him. Jesus also reaches out to people regardless of His own theological reputation. Justice is about creating spaces in our churches that are free from homophobia or transphobia, where all can come and experience the redeeming love of Christ.
Josh has an M.A. in Biblical Literature, and his greatest passion is help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.
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