03 November 2009

We're Not Called To Be Comfortable

In this journey of faith I have been in many, many situations outside my comfort zone. Everything from helping in local missions to ministering to people on the streets of Indianapolis to praying with home owners devastated by flooding near Atlanta. Everywhere I go it becomes the same "freak out" story. Every time I find myself in the middle of a new level of uncomfortable. Why would I expect anything different on Nov. 1st.

November 1st was a day that I had been planning for well over a month. It was an outreach at the Atlanta Pride Festival put on by Craig Gross and Jason Harper in connection to their new book "Jesus Loves You This I Know". The premise of the book and the outreach was to let people know that Jesus loves them right where they are. Our mission seemed simple enough, show Jesus love to those involved in a gay pride parade. We met on Friday night, talked, prayed, and labeled bottles of water with the simple message "Jesus Loves You This I Know." We left the meeting with a location and time to meet on Sunday afternoon. As I drove back to Hiram, GA where I was staying I found myself battling fear and doubt. Some might say that was God telling me I was doing the wrong thing, but I know His voice enough to know it wasn't Him. Over the weekend I thought more and more about the upcoming event and I felt more and more uncomfortable. What was really in store for me?

As I drove into Atlanta I was flooded with many different emotions. I had an urge to turn around and forget the whole thing. My thoughts were racing. Would people reject us, would they get angry with us, would they attack us verbally or maybe even physically? These questions were all running through my mind as I made my way through Atlanta traffic. My expectations were leaning toward the worst possible outcome. These expectations couldn't have been further from the truth.

As I walked through the crowds of people I couldn't help but notice the real reason for the parade. It is a deep rooted need to be loved and accepted. People have this need no matter where they are in life. As I handed out bottles of water I could see the effects of the love message. People were open to what the bottle said and open to talk with us about our mission. One encounter stands out more than the rest, it was Grace. She came flying over to us yelling, "I want one! I want one!" When she got to us she grabbed a bottle, read the label, and said "wow, the two most important things in life, water and Jesus!" and ran back to her group. This encounter stuck with me. It set me back a few steps. I had always assumed that people involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle were completely closed off to the message of Jesus. It was a shock for me to find out otherwise. I know there are "gay" churches out there, but it always seemed to me that they were open to there circle, not mine. It amazed me the gap that love was able to bridge.

This is the point were I feel I must make a few statements to clarify. I cannot, in good conscience, say that I agree with the gay and lesbian lifestyle, nor do I believe it is a God honoring lifestyle. I do, however love those in the gay and lesbian lifestyle without prejudice or judgment. With that said, I do believe that Jesus loves the gay and lesbian community as much as He loves me. If that isn't true then it must be possible to earn a right to be loved by God, yet the scripture says otherwise. "God so loved the world..."(John 3:16) and "While we were still sinners"(Rom. 5:8) would mean nothing if I had to be in right standing to accept Jesus. I also believe that we can go to God just as we are, sinful, filthy, and broken and let Him cleanse us. I know in my life, if I were held to absolute perfection I would fail... every time! I absolutely believe that when we accept Christ that we are held to God's standard for our lives. He does hold us accountable for whether we followed His Word or not. I also know we are a work in progress. God works on different things at different times in all of us. It is not my job to clean my life up before I go to Jesus any more than it is the clothes job to clean up before they go into the washing machine. Just as the washing machine cleans the clothes, God cleans us through His Son Jesus.

We want to classify sin in our society. We want to believe that some sin is worse than others, but God puts such of sin in one category. (1Co 6:9-11)“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”- There are a bunch of sins listed with homosexuality that I am guilty of, so why would I, or should I, feel the need to condemn others? I am forgiven when I turn to Jesus and so will those in the gay and lesbian lifestyle. I'm not saying we should tolerate everything that people do. I am saying that we should tolerate people no matter what they do and let God clean them up in His time. We should always walk in love... after all "Love never fails..." 1Co 13:8

If your always comfortable in what you are doing for God then are you really doing what God wants you to do or what you want to do? We were never promised comfort by following Jesus, but we were promised that no matter what we did that He would be right there with us. Be challenged today to reach outside your comfort zone to show the love of Jesus with others.

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