I think a fellow pastor said it best when he said yesterday that “the debate over homosexuality has brought out the worst in people on both sides of the debate”. On one side you have those that say they follow Jesus making people that disagree with them their enemies. On the other side of the debate you have people that claim to be tolerant making those that believe differently than them their enemies as well.
What can be done however with such a heated and divisive issue? Can the two sides ever be reconciled? Can two groups that seem to hate each other so much ever be on reasonable speaking terms? In short I would say, “Yes!”
Jesus is a master of reconciliation! He makes old hearts new, He makes arrogant people humble, He makes enemies into friends.
But it has to start somewhere. So who will be the one to step across the battle lines and start the conversation? What will this conversation look like?
The answer to the first question must, in my opinion, be the church. We, as Christians, should be the first ones to say that we disagree but want to help. This does not mean that we give up what we know the Bible to say. It simple means that we understand Luke 6:27-36 better.
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if youlend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even asyour Father is merciful.
We stop shouting and start loving. Yes this love includes telling those that ask about homosexuality that its wrong, but also understanding it is the Holy Spirit that changes hearts not us. Practically it means if someone I know is homosexual needs something (help moving, money for food , etc) I want to help if I can, but don’t expect me to be changing my Facebook avatar or go to a rally.
The answer to the second question is similar to the first. It includes befriending those that we disagree with. Not just saying we are friends but actually becoming their friends. You hangout with your friends, you spend time with your friends, you pray for and with your friends and you talk in a kind way with your friends. This means time invested in relationships. This means taking flack for your friendship from people that disagree with you about whom you spend your time with. Don’t take it to personally though, Jesus caught the same kind of flack as we read in Matthew 9:11-13.
11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I believe that as a Christian it’s my job to be around as many people that don’t know Jesus as possible so that I can tell others about him. I do not agree with gay marriage, but I do agree in equality. The equality of sinners. We are all sinners and that’s the one true equal. We all need saved, we all need Jesus. With that understanding we, as Christians, should move forward knowing not everyone is going to agree with us. Jesus said along time ago to expect that when he spoke to his disciples in John 15:20-22
20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,[a] but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Don’t be surprised that people sin and want to rebel against God. Remember that you, if you are now a follower of Christ, were once the same way. Remember your sin and the Jesus that saved you from it. With that knowledge and the hope that only Christ brings go into a rebellious world bring hope not hate. Don’t expect it to be easy, but expect it to be worth it.