But what happens when being on the right team, the right side, means you will be insulted, torn apart, bullied, spat at, misinterpreted, misunderstood, talked about, beaten and put to death...kinda like being on Jesus' team!
What happens when being on the right team, the right side means; you holding to a view of holiness which makes you culturally awkward. Your conviction and views go contrary to the 'new way of thinking!' You're told you have to get with the times, be generous and spacious. Use new descriptive labels of identity, even though it makes you uneasy and you just don't know why, and all for the sake of being viewed as more welcoming.
I've been pondering these ideas as I read so many blogs. Whew there are a lot of blogs out there, trying to re-frame old ideas and old thoughts. Package them in new ways to make it more relevant and with the times, so that the young adults won't leave the church!
I sorta think that's hogwash! Now please, bear with me for a minute. There are revivals happening in other countries, where the church is growing at amazing rates and yet in the west it appears its in the decline.
We can't say that's because we aren't relevant enough, or our music isn't loud or interesting enough, or that we haven't been adopting an affirming view on certain sin issues, or that the we haven't been seen as loving. Maybe the decline is that we are so gorged in instant everything that when it doesn't happen for us in the time we want, we get disillusioned and we throw everything away. We haven't gotten what we've been looking or asking for. If God makes us wait...then what? If we don't prosper in the way we think we should materially? What happens when someone calls us on our sin? Run or Repent?
Most times we run. I ran! I felt the Church didn't care for me in the way I needed, didn't meet my need, I didn't change in the way I had asked God to change me, and it just felt like being in Church meant my life was just one big NO! You can't do that...you certainly cannot do that...absolutely no to that!! So I threw that out, and walked away from friends, people who loved me and I adopted the cultural descriptive label...GAY.
Everything is permissible, not everything is profitable. What was permissible? Everything? I was free to make choices and decide how I was going to live, but not everything that I chose was profitable or to my benefit. A lot of the things I did, now have scarred my life and I live with some of the ramifications of my actions. The things I yoked myself to, people, riches, envy, covetousness, sex, self reliance, now a constant washing away. Adam and Eve made choices...oops, that's where it all began...free will and a decision that propelled us into 'born sinful'.
So can we get back to a vibrant Church? I think yes! But it means we repent. We begin to take every thought captive, we run with perseverance, we stay on the path of life. We unite together in love, doing whatever we can to be at peace, we hate sin as much as Jesus did (in our own lives, because the plank is always bigger in my eye). We become unafraid of others loving us well and calling us out of deception and submit rather than run. We authentically speak the truth with all the grace and mercy we have been extended. We refuse to bow to cultural gods and we rise as royal priests, heirs! We throw away attraction and embrace authenticity. There are no smoke screens, huge speakers, massive lights in Iran or Northern Africa where revivals are happening...and Christian's face the greatest persecution there...and they are still accepting Jesus.
What do they get that we don't? I don't want to answer that...but maybe they see their life as not their own? Maybe they get the fact that every part of their life is submitted to one true God? Maybe, just maybe they don't love their life so much that they aren't afraid of losing everything...and I mean everything. Can we say the same?
Could I not love my gay identity so much as to sacrifice that on the cross of Jesus, giving it and every part of my sexuality to God, to define in His Holiness? Rather than taking on that descriptive word so I am relevant to the world around me...so I could build bridges or foster generous spaces?
Psalm 16:5-7 read-
You, Lord, are all I want! You are my choice, and you keep me safe. You make my life pleasant, and my future is bright. I praise you, Lord, for being my guide. Even in the darkest night, your teachings fill my mind.
We are sometimes so afraid of being on the right or wrong side and yet God says there is a right and a wrong side...and I can't package that in a nice decorated and pretty present, it's truth, and when we get a revelation of that truth we find kindness, love, mercy and grace, which is eternal. That is my prayer for the Church. That we wouldn't love our lives so much...that we aren't afraid to throw off every hindrance, and run a good race...and that we would love God more than ourselves...and turn to Him in every situation that we face.