Monday, January 28, 2013

Homosexuals vs. the Peacefakers

In the battle between church and identity, homosexuality has solidified itself as arguably the most prominent ethical issue of this postmodern age. As the case with similar matters, such as abortion, healthcare, employment, corporate fraud and euthanasia, the spiritual evolution of gay relationships is changing drastically. And as the closet loses its repute of refuge, popular perception surrounding homosexuality continues to alter, trending away from religious conflict and towards cultural barometer. As the world assesses character through the lens of tolerance and places premiums on lenience and acceptance, the tension between church and state escalates. For the believer, it’s imperative now more than ever to convey the marriage between sufferance and justice by establishing a sound game-plan rooted in the heart of God - to be prepared to make a gentle and respectful defense to anyone who inquires about the hope [we] have (1 Peter 3:15); however, accrued revelation is only the beginning. The key to winning hearts and challenging deception lies in how we radiate truth to those in dire need of a divine encounter. How do we, as the body of Christ, rightfully discern and live out the difference between love and tolerance, alongside righteous judgment and humility? 

Although I do not advocate the homosexual lifestyle, I love gay people. And though I also love the church, I do not believe she has judged the homophile population righteously. Why? Well, for starters, the church has a) alienated love and respect from addressing truth with grace (John 1:16-18), b) neglected humility for the sake of self-righteousness c) prioritized and compartmentalized sin and d) instead of brimming with compassion and understanding, we’ve allowed ourselves to simmer with muted Spirit. And what do we do to bridge the widening gap between the homosexual and heterosexual communities? We spew out truth after truth, conviction after conviction, in hope a heap of catchy phrases and likeable locutions will be enough to tip the scale. But the truth is: Homosexuals do not need sermons that preach, but real people that reach. They do not need pious, pretentious perspectives rooted in offense. And they certainly do not need supporters of holy matrimony so easily affronted when biblical absolutes are challenged. If only we would decrease to arrogant jostling and increase to honest love and transparent communication. If only we would lay down our right to be right, we would soon realize the reason why the lost love to loathe is because believers do the exact same thing. In blind pride, we accuse the blind deceived. No wonder the world considers us peacefakers instead of peacemakers! 

Conversely, homosexuals should note the irony in labeling all Christians as hypocrites. While I recognize the artificiality in the western church, not all believers are clueless or careless to the internal, intimate details of homoerotic relationships. Why? Well, first off, disagreement is not synonymous to discrimination. Not all disciples hide prejudice behind the “saved” card. Furthermore, not all Christians walk in a religious spirit, converting constructive critique into critical censure, thus, fueling the flame of hostility. Instead, many are shattering the mold by encouraging the church to operate in its appointed form - to love unconditionally, to withhold the stone, and help one another "live a life worthy of the calling we have [God's] people under the authority of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 4:1-3; 1:22-23). (Note: Peter upholds this notion by interfacing one's abidance under Christ’s authority to the call to imitate Christ in how he walked in this world. In addition, Peter charges the church to not only walk as Jesus walked, but to zealously live out spiritual maturity and an understanding of biblical truth).

While I will temporarily reserve diving into a deep, apologetic exegesis on why homosexuality contradicts both Word and sovereign authority, I will say I am eager for both sides to "get over" the animosity and ditch the fear. Personally, I'm ready to step out of the closet and reveal an apparent, contagious love for the homosexuals, as well other demographics that feel abused by the church. For all have fallen short of the glory ofGod (Romans 3:23), and with all the chaos in the earth today, there is simply no room for "holier than thou" mentalities.  After all, people say they want happiness and peace on earth, but what they truly yearn for is to be free. With Christ in us, the church needs to man down, Spirit up and activate a faith with the courage to love without self-induced boundaries.

Note: I am not trying to water down the truth of the gospel. Yes, we need to love the sinner, hate the sin; however, just because there's a divide, doesn't mean we're guilty of conditional acceptance. Sin is sin. And as the case with murder, sexual sin, theft, etc, we need to warn against it, speaking the truth in love. Bottom line: merge compassion and love with real honesty. The evidence exists within Scripture and throughout creation. So may the church make both presence felt and voice heard, so confusion will not have a place to stand.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

The God Who Makes Change

As a new year debuts, many are launching into self-inspired resolutions to unite dreams of clean slates to personal aspirations. Unfortunately, in our westernized cul-de-sac, settings goals for the sake of egoistic modulation has crystallized into one of the most cliché, and often futile, traditions. As time bids its annual farewell, revelatory ambitions are shared to conjure up higher expectations into future days; however, lost within this desire of narcissistic edification is a true understanding of change. In today's world, the prospect of transformation has diminished to shots of self-seeking satisfaction, evinced by people taking insane action to overcome the insanity in their lives. Little do they know that resolutions, without supremely integrated motivation and anchored hope, will never last through the doldrums of winter.

To embrace true change in a way that amplifies character and faith, the first step is to acknowledge our own insufficiencies. For without divine presence, resolutions will always lack lasting power, since fallen implies temporary. As humans with a definitive sinful nature, to independently operate without referencing God epitomizes the highest form of spiritual insensibility. And if we exclusively craft contrivances on a platform fit for a King, then we risk neglecting a God patiently waiting in the wings for an invitation to a party He has already planned. To adequately and desperately pursue exceeding increase minus the fallout, it’s essential to trust in the providence and faithfulness of a God who pines for not only our attention, but our ascension to a higher life with Him.

The second step is to prepare for complete engagement. As distractions in a people-pleasing world threaten our devotion, seizing the call to surrender can seem impossible. Yet, even in the bleakest circumstances, when change is a mere glow at the end of a dusky road, hope thrives. Because if real, radical change is a special on the menu of perpetual betterment, then abiding and confiding in the perfect love and sanctity of God will not only preserve endurance but illuminate a purer expectancy. For if God is not entirely accessed, we cannot experience His excess; if God is not wholesomely pursued, we cannot be unconditionally wooed; and if God is not absolutely adored, we cannot be fully restored. Bear in mind, I’m not suggesting God can be confined; however, if our abandon for Christ is partial, so will our ability to discern and receive God’s love and all the truths attached. If we’re not living to grow, then we’re not living to sow, which only comes when we, through prayer and submission, place our desire for change in holy hands.

Finally, remember the recipe for a revolutionary walk with Christ is unfathomably fathomable. Although deceptions and misconceptions strive to keep faith at bay, when we seek sacred sustenance with an open heart and no reservations, we inevitably encounter perfect help embodied in perfect love, which in turns, cultivates dependence on the Holy Spirit and subsequently, livens a transcendent excitement. Therefore, change can be perceived not only as a strategy, but also an attitude rooted in the sovereignty and grace of God. And while many degrade resolutions by focusing more on outcomes than processes, this doesn’t change the fact God makes change for us all the time, sealed by the charge to spread it to others. Why wouldn’t we want to bank with the Creator of the universe, when we have complete freedom to deposit our deepest, most intimate fears and passions into His heart? Why would we take a leap in vain, when the greatest exchange is within reach 24/7/365? For when nothing changes, nothing happens. And when nothing happens, nothing will change.

Scriptural Inspirations

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT)

17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NLT)

8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. 9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

Romans 2:29b (NLT)

29…a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

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