Thursday, June 18, 2015

Confessions Coming Out; Balancing Truth and Love

This may be hard for some to believe, given the stand on Bible truth that Lori and I may take, that I have friends I love dearly who are adulterers, embezzlers, gay, and yes, a few that are quite self-righteous. I have had long, caring discussions with husbands who are sleeping with another man’s wife, with gays about the hardships of being gay, and enjoyed myself at gay parties that were quite ordinary. Much like many believers, I try to take Jesus with me as I crisscross North America and Europe helping people as I consult with their businesses. About eighty evenings a year for 34 years I've spent with the privilege of entering into the lives of all sorts of people, saints and sinners, becoming their friend, and coming to love them deeply. 

For some, it is incongruent that a Christian can stand strong on God’s truths as the Bible clearly teaches, yet is able to accept people right where they are; no condemnation, no demand for change, no judgmentalism, just good, honest conversations sharing life. At times we agree and at times we disagree on what we believe, but we always agree that we can be friendly as we share life and common goals together. The battle for truth and ideas should never impact how we see other people as people. 

My question is, "Why can’t a Christian be understood as one who stands firmly on God’s truth as best they understand it, without our being condemned as being judgmental, or even worse, 'hateful?' Why can’t I have friends who have struggles in life, believers and unbelievers, and love on them while not watering down what God has to say in His Word?" Hey, I can’t perfectly live up to God's ways, so why would I expect that my friends will? Jesus says we are “to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect” and yet there is no chance of this happening apart from the indwelling power of the God of the universe that comes from His saving grace. If I struggle with sin after receiving God's grace, how much harder must it be for one who does not taste of His grace daily?

I have my own set of weaknesses and temptations, so I will not cast a stone at anyone. But I will try to “speak the truth in love” to all my friends and all who will listen that right and wrong exists, truth exists, even if I cannot fully live up to it. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me." How will my friends know this narrow way to God if you and I who have found Him do not tell them? Truth must be balanced with unconditional love.

It is certainly true that we who are believers need to speak less and love more when we are face-to-face with those who may throw up over God’s Word. Just as no husband or wife has come out from under his/her spouses critical spirit to be a better person, no friend will come out from our critical spirit jumping for joy at the thought of accepting the Lord Jesus as Savior by our negativity and attacks.  I am still trying to learn to follow the words of St. Francis of Assisi who said, Preach the gospel, and if necessaryuse words.”

Much like a wife is to win her disobedient husband by her chaste and godly behavior, and not her words, so too the Christian must live a joyful life before our friends, loving on them, even as they may have sins committed the night before that are quite awful. As I have said to many men who are struggling with porn, or other sexual sins, “It doesn’t matter.”

“What?” says the friend, “How can you say it doesn’t matter when I am filled with guilt and pain over it?”

“It doesn’t matter because your sins, no matter how grave, no matter how many, are all laid at the foot of the cross in 30 A.D., the moment you believe and placed upon Jesus by faith. It is your faith that matters. Faith that teaches us not to look at past sins, but instead look forward "and sin no more." 

Jesus does not condemn the sinner, but gives hope that no matter how deep the despair and the bondage of sins, Christ has already provided the answers and forgiveness for sins; past, present and future. For “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” {I John 2:2}. This is correct, ALL of the sins of the whole world are hung on the cross, but in order to receive forgiveness one has to accept it by way of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. I don't make the rules, God does.

So in my confession of coming out, I want to make sure that it is clear that I plan on continuing to love all of my gay friends, those struggling with worse sins, and anyone who God chooses to put into my journey of life.  The Josh Duggars of this world, Bruce Jenners, and yes, even Dennis Hastert, every sinner and self-righteous person is welcome at my dinner table where we can share life; true, authentic life, filled with differences of opinions, yet knowing that we are all on a journey together. Even the haters are welcome, so long as they will allow me to be me, and all that God is calling me to be, just as they are free to live life as they choose.  Just don't expect me to condone or enter into your sins.

All I as a Christian ask for is the same kindness and consideration I see as, “common human decency,” that should be given to all people everywhere, no matter what their religion, race, gender or sexual orientation; the same decency Christ showed to the sinners, saints and self-righteous Pharisees. Allow Christians to exercise our American right to free speech in telling the world that we are against all sins, even those we commit ourselves. 

Most importantly, we do not have to be perfect to be outspoken on those things we believe are most harmful to society and the family unit, like divorce and gay marriage. But if you get divorced, or you desire a gay marriage, we love you as a fellow person, and intend to give you the same common respect and decency that we want from you in return. We're just two people on a journey sharing life but filled with grace for each other; the same respect and decency Lori and I must give each other daily when we stumble into sin or missteps. 

Hate has no place in a free world, and especially not in the battle of ideas and truth on hot issues like abortion, gay marriage and immorality. We can disagree with our friends and fellow human beings as we "come and reason together," but more so, as we learn to enjoy each other as one person sharing life with another and trying to help make your life better because you knew me; just like Jesus did at the table with the publicans and sinners like me.   

Come let us reason together, says the Lord: 
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; 
though they be like red crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18