Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Homosexuality, God's Word and Stephen

This post is from a precious woman who's beloved son died recently.  His name is Stephen.  This is for him, and for the family he loved, and I am honored to post it here.  - Sue

  When God puts something on my heart, He is relentless.  It is on my mind until I respond to His nudge.  He works that way.  How about you?

   A friend responded on my Facebook status regarding homosexuality and she said, "A person who accepts homosexuality is not a true christian."  I have to admit that it offended me because I truly love the Lord and He has been my strength during very hard times and in miraculous ways.  But my testimony is another story.  As offensive as her remark was I am sick in my heart when my brothers and sisters in Christ speak scathingly and judgmentally regarding homosexuality.  I know through God's Word that we are all children of God.  That would include Jeffrey Dahlmer, Hitler, Ted Bundy, Sandusky and even my father, a pedophile.  Amazing and difficult at the same time.   God's Word tells us to agape love everyone, even the unlovable.

   When I think of the Old and New Testament the sin that is referred to the most was worshiping idols or other gods.  Modern day gods might be our children, spouses, money, cars, shopping, drug or alcohol addictions, food, our houses and even our lawns.  My brothers and sisters in Christ...are these children of God?  Are they entitled to a relationship with Christ and the love of the Lord?  Does that mean they automatically stop sinning when they accept the Lord?  You know the answer to that and for some your hurtful words say the opposite of what your heart says.

   Let's talk about Saul who persecuted christians.  Before, during and after his conversion God used his life in a mighty way.  There are many, many examples of how God used sinful men and women in mighty ways.  Off hand, there was Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Job and especially King David who disobeyed God in a huge way, yet God called him a man after His own heart.  Paul, a prolific writer in the New Testament, a man who evangelized and brought thousands to Christ in his lifetime and untold many more through his words.  If you read Romans, my favorite, Paul talks a lot about sin and in a very familiar way.  I hope this scripture will touch seekers in a special way as these words touched me.  Romans 7:19:  "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing."  I'm thinking this man knows my heart, my struggles.  Also "So I find this law at work:  when I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."  Romans 7:20-25.  Wow, Paul really got it!  He understood mankind in relation to his own sin and reveled in the loving nature of a God who sent Jesus Christ as the perfect lamb because God understood, after all the turmoil in the Old Testament, the sinful nature of man.

   Like I said, Paul certainly understood sin.  In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, 'my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'.   Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  Paul never says what his thorn is, but to me it is clear that it was sin and that he struggled with it.  Paul bears his heart and it so speaks to my heart!  Here is a man who sins, struggles, suffers;  exactly like all mankind.  He brought so many people to Christ through his humility, words of acceptance and his love for Jesus Christ.  Some commentaries, like William Barclay, believe it was a physical ailment.  A more contemporary commentator is Jon Courson, who refers to Paul's thorn as an "issue" that returns over and over.  Courson does state, "Keep praying, saint.  The Lord will either remove your thorn, your pain, your struggle - or give you understanding to go along with it".   Jon Courson's Application Commentary, page 1157.

   Worshiping gods.  It's even one of the 10 Commandments, "You shall have no other gods before me."  Well, honestly, I know lots of christians who break that commandment and I include myself in that remark.  There have been times in my life where alcohol or drugs were gods.  And currently I worship my daughter.  I could never be as faithful as Abraham with his near sacrifice of his son, Isaac.  I have not yet totally released my daughter to God, even though God blessed me with her.  That's another personal testimony story of how God miraculously worked in my life despite my sin.  Worshiping other gods is not talked about by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ like homosexuality is.  My own fellow christians, who I know love the Lord, sorely test me because Jesus did say, "This is my command:  Love each other.:  It's the red words in John 15:17.  So I try. 

   Since my son's death last March, the fact that he was gay, how he suffered from scathing words of professed christians, he avoided the church and because of those words he did not believe he also was entitled to the love, peace and comfort that comes with a relationship with Jesus.  Because of those scathing words that are so very hurtful my daughter had to hear, after her brother's death and from a friend, "All gays go to hell."  Because of those judgmental words that profess to speak God's Word young teens are committing suicide.  Imagine the loss of those lives, what they could have been, the contribution they would have made.  Those precious children of God who during very formative, identity defining time succumb to the scathing and judgmental words of christians and non-christians alike.  I don't think this makes God smile.  I don't think these hurtful opinions bring non-christians to God, in spite of Jesus' great commission.  I don't think the hurtful opinions represent all christians very well, certainly not me because I know in my heart that the very essence of God is love.

   I know homosexuals, women with abortion in their past, people who have sex outside marriage.   I've known adulterers, people who steal or covet others' belongings.  I've known people who have worshiped other gods from drugs to their possessions.  I've known people who gossip, sometimes use vulgar language and even people who have gotten angry with God and asked "why me", maybe even cursed Him.  The common thread of all these sinners are just that.  We are all sinners!  And despite the sin God grants us grace, undeserved favor, which is stated over and over again in His Word.  Isaiah 43:25:  "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

   I urge all my brothers and sisters in Christ, please search your hearts, remember to love one another, remember the plank in your own eye, or he without sin cast the first stone.  Remember Jesus' great commission so that you can stand before the Judgment Seat of God with gemstones representing all the lost souls you brought to Christ.  And please, please keep hurtful words and opinions to yourself.  As commanded in the Bible only the Father in Heaven will judge and Jesus goes so far as to say, "Who are you to judge?"  Even Jesus didn't judge.  So don't do it!  If you feel you must then be sure to include scripture referring to all sins which WE ALL commit.  Let seekers read God's Word and feel Him work in their hearts.  Don't turn them away because that is exactly what your words do!  I had a pastor, Brent Brooks, who said regarding South Potomac Church, only members could join and those members are sinners.

   For all souls struggling, in pain, feeling shame and guilt by those hurtful words of others.  Know deep in your heart that you are a child of God, a brother or sister to Christ.  That life on this Earth is fleeting and that void that you feel now is waiting to be filled with the love of God.  If you feel that you can never be 100% happy, take comfort that God made us that way and that true happiness comes after we depart this Earth.  Know that in our suffering we are more Christ-like than any other time in our lives.  Take some comfort in knowing this.  Know with God you will never feel lonely and gain a freedom you have never experienced before.  Know that when Jesus died on the cross as the flawless sacrifice for our sins, that it became a done deal.  All you have to do is accept it and the free gift of grace from God.

   I will make a couple more statements and let you go.  You have heard, "Hate the sin, but love the sinner"?  While you are typing or vocalizing hurtful and selective remarks about gays, are you remembering your own sin?  When you feel compelled to type or state hurtful words, stop and think and compare yourself to Christ.  It's a humbling experience.  And lastly, because of judgmental, hurtful words bandied about from some christians regarding homosexuals, and the increased teen suicides regarding homosexuality, be aware, I will speak louder than you of God's grace and love.

   So long and thank you and may God bless all sinners.

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