Monday, May 21, 2012

God and Gays #2: Sharing the Gospel

So I got a lot of flack for my post entitled "God and Gays". I got a lot of encouragement and support, but I also got a lot of flack...which should be expected if you write about things and put things on the internet.

Most of the tomatoes that were flung my way were by conservative readers who were upset over my take on what it means to "properly" spread the Gospel. And I want to first and foremost say that I appreciate your positions and respect your viewpoints on what it looks like to present the love and compassion of the Lord. There is indeed no formula for this and to be honest, there are many of us who are going to have differing opinions.

Just with any book one reads, the mental pictures developed and the lessons learned will vary from one person to the next. The slight differences in raconter of the four Gospels alone show us how our viewpoints on the same story can look slightly different sometimes. Are the underlying lessons and standards Jesus set for us open to being altered and colored by our own opinions? No. No they most certainly are not. I am not here to adjust the Good News to my liking. In fact, I promise you that I will always address difficult issues from a compassionate, Bible-based, Christ-centered perspective.

So back to the subject on what it looks like to spread the Gospel.

In order to answer that question, it is important to answer a few others first. My answers will not be lengthy, they will be to the point and hopefully clear.

What is the Gospel and why is it important?

The Gospel is the account of Jesus' life, and the central Christian message is a proclamation of redemption through the offering of Jesus Christ for one's sins.

I am keeping this answer short not because I want to spare you from reading an 8-page blog post, but because I hope that it is at this point you will stop reading here, pick up a Bible, and read one of the Gospels yourself. Christian or not, it's important to have a grasp on all religions in order to love others well. Beliefs are important to people, and that matters. This goes for you too Christian friend of mine. Don't be ignorant of other faiths. There is beauty in all and even though you don't embrace something in another faith, doesn't mean it's irrelevant and isn't important to someone. It's extremely difficult to love others well if you don't understand what they value.

No matter what religion you follow, we can all agree that there is a lot of corruption in the world. We have to teach babies to be good, not bad, and we go through our days rarely feeling hook line and sinker satisfied. Yes, we have moments when we're on cloud 9 and yes we have days when life just makes sense and feels good. But please don't be arrogant enough to think that life is consistently happy, your bank account is always so full it's embarrasing to talk about, and your significant other meets every beating desire of your heart. If you disagree with me here and your life is perfect, then may I borrow some money and have the keys to your Bugatti.

Christianity shouldn't be something you're convinced or scared into. Christianity is born with God's perfect will revealing Himself to us and us responding to that Grace. The wisdom and tenderness of the Lord's work becomes more apparent to me with every scripture I read and every moment I give. It is liberating and humbling, and unfortunately, I feel that a lot of us miss the mark due to an austere formula of what it looks like to share it.

A dear friend of mine from college, Gabriel Mudd, wrote what I feel is a theologically sound and compassionate view on what it looks like to share the Gospel.

"At this day in age in the US, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has not heard the gospel message, doesn't have a minute familiarity with the bible, or at least hasn't heard the arguments for, about, or against sin, and specifically homosexuality. There tends to be a lot of bitterness (legitimately) because of how someone has been treated, spurned, thrown out of a church, rejected, unloved, hated and abused for being honest, trying to seek help, or feeling different.
If someone confesses to be a charismatic Christian, generally speaking, people in the US know what that means, and often the association is having a hard-line stance on certain issues, complete with biblical support. And there is nothing wrong with standing for what you believe and knowing why you believe it. But often what gets lost in the balance is love for others. Some people are so zealous that they forget the human aspect of our basic intrinsic needs, to be loved fully and completely. They overlook the person’s heart in the balance and some are unfortunately trying to exault their own holiness over someone else for whatever reason. Instead of handling a situation with compassion, they blatantly say the hard line answer, not knowing the person’s history and not handling it with tact or understanding the story behind the situation. I’m not saying the situation is right, but from my own experiences, struggle and treatment, I know that things can be handled better so that others aren’t burned by Christians.
Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. That is how you share the gospel. By consistency. By compassion. By having a stance but not judging others, (which is exactly what “sinners” have come to expect from “Christians,” almost so that they are pulling for the judgment to justify their uneasiness). We are to share the love of Christ, let God be the judge of all morality, and gain a better understanding of someone else’s heart and struggles."

I am a Christian. And my responsibility is to humbly and boldly follow the Lord and lay down my arms. It is to live like Jesus did. It is to stop waging war. It is to wash your feet.
So here is another apology on behalf of the Christians before me and around me who have not only epically failed at this, but who have put a chip on your shoulder or a dager in your heart.

1 comment:

  1. Liz,
    You don’t need to apologize for the way other Christians act or acted.
    What we need to do is pray to God to help enlighten and guide those.
    Christ had a dozen disciples, around 100 apostles and thousands of followers.
    When Christ died some of his own disciples started to doubt him. (I’m thinking Thomas, but I’m bad with names)
    So for Christians to “fail” in the proper following of Christ and the appropriate teaching and spreading of the word, is expected. At least by those who understand the human traits.
    All we can do is the works our father asks us to do. Whether the seed we are ask to plant is of an oak tree or a tomato plant. The end results are unknown to us.

    A misguided Christian spreading the word may have just planted a seed in an empty field. The soil is sandy and the rains may wash it away. Along comes a cow with it’s snout in the thin grass drops the food that seed needs. (All due respect, I’m not trying to call you a cow) =] but, by continuing to share the word and works of Christ that seed may turn into a apple tree, producing shade for some, shelter for others and even food for many. Disease my come and kill the tree, thus turning it into firewood that produced heat for a sick child or elderly parent.

    Who gets credit? The cow that wondered by leaving its warm muffin or how about the misguided Christian who planted the seed in the first place?
    We all know the real answer is God.

    As I have strived to know the words of God (And am very bad at memorizing it) I have come to realize that the words are only the building blocks or foundation of the followers, children or sheep we are of Christ. The real structure is our deeds (by all means I am not trying to say go out and do good dead) it is our response to the deeds our Lord has asked us to do that I believe is what is needed.

    On a lighter note, the other day when we met, why didn’t you offer to wash my feet?
    I know, you only had a half full glass of wine and was saving it for someone that was thirsty. =]

    May the spirit of the Lord continue to touch upon you, filling you with the wisdom, guidance and grace to complete the deeds of our Father.