The good news is that people who love Jesus don’t hate gay men and women. We love em! Sadly, we love em to death. We promise not to judge, we tell them about Jesus, and then we go away and leave them just standing there, beaten and dying slowly.
Everybody knows what Romans 1 says about same-sex attraction. But that’s not the most useful verse for believers helping friends with SSA. If you want to minister to a gay man or woman who reaches with questions, think about Christ’s warning that we must not let our light be hidden under a bushel. In Matthew 5:16, Christ goes on to say, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”
Churches leave wounded people for dead when we only give them half of the gospel. We talk vaguely about trusting Christ, worshiping in spite of feelings, and praying fervently. And we say it with that those sweet little tears of concern, rain from heaven, welling up in our eyes. But a lot of us seem to have trouble telling gay men and women that remaining morally pure will be a sacrificial act of love for Christ! Laying your life on the altar of God sounds uncomfortable at first, but the words of the Lord are clear and compelling: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me.”
We cringe because we know people with desperate addictions can’t see the power of that kind of self-denial and sacrifice in our lives. How are they supposed to be convicted when we’ve buried the evidence?
What if the real reason I cannot encourage a gay neighbor seeking Christ to deny himself and carry his particular cross is that, frankly, it seems so unrealistic to me? Many of us have never forfeited anything precious in the name of Christ- except perhaps a cup of Starbucks’ coffee in order to give $5 to world hunger. And even if I gave $100 or $1,000, is that really what Christ had in mind when he called me to crucify my flesh and die with him?
People with same-sex attraction would be more motivated in their pursuit of holy abstinence if they could see how other saints express adoration and sacrifice in profound ways as well.
- Have I walked away from a career, at least risked being fired, when the job compromised my faith or dishonored the Lord?
- Have my kids and I given up league soccer because it conflicts with worship on Sunday?
- Is it apparent that I am generous with people who need a meal, a place to stay, new clothes for a job and a path out of poverty?
- Can my life and schedule be easily interrupted by a neighbor who has relapsed into addiction and crawled back to a pub; a woman whose husband has become violent; a young person whose angry parents have tossed her out of the house?
- Does my compassion for others occasionally take me to difficult, dangerous places at inconvenient times, or do I just wait for a quick church activity in prime time to serve the Lord?
- Has anyone ever seen me rejoice and praise God when my faith in Christ cost me something valuable and significant?
- Does my love for Christ ever prompt others to call me ignorant or narrow-minded? And on those occasions when it does, do I bear it all gladly, refusing to get angry and defend myself?
- If a repentant gay friend ever asked me about the precious things I have given up in the name of Jesus, could I freely share my story with joy and tears?
Sacrifice is so far from the minds of most American church folks that we can’t even countenance a day of fasting. (“I would be worthless at the office if I skipped food all day! What’s the point?”) We are convinced that 21st Century living means we can have it all. But we can’t have everything else and have Jesus too.
Christ compared the Kingdom to a man who finds treasure in a field and then sells everything he owns to make that plot of land his own. It’s like a pearl merchant who finds a pearl so exquisite that he sells his entire inventory to claim that singular treasure. Jesus clearly knew what that meant. His first-century listeners understood as well. Sadly, we in the 21st Century have no idea.
Let’s pray for repentance and faith, and pray tirelessly for a teachable spirit. Some of us in the church may need to be born again, for real. And lift up the Cross!
To hear Pastor Cole’s companion message on Sacrifice, click here.