Friday, August 16, 2013

I'm Christian Unless...

I made the mistake of praying once... No, you read that right.  It's not a typo.  I made the mistake of praying once, and it was Pete's fault.  Pete was one of my professors in seminary and changed my life.  He, and a few others, showed me a different way.

See, I had a great gig going.  It was comfortable.  It was stable.  Very few problems, even fewer counseling sessions.  Plenty of money in the bank.  But I made the mistake of praying.

I don't remember the exact prayer, but that's not important.  I'm pretty sure it went something like this, though: "God, I know there has to be more.  Show me how I can make a difference.  Send me to change lives."  It seemed innocent enough, right?  So God began to answer that prayer by creating within me a haunting sense of restlessness. 

I loved my folks.  They loved me.  Most of the time we got along great, and I could have stayed for years...but God had answered my prayer by making me restless.  Did I mention that already?  So I used the system to make a change. 

Shattered delusion.  Yeah, that's what I'd call it.  I was living a delusion.  I had been raised in a community that was pretty stable and I cannot think of a better place to grow up, but...

...but I was never really exposed to anything other than white, middle class, straight, and for the most part, law abiding.  So I thought that was how everyone lived, until I met Pete.  Pete took me to the slums of Mexico (literally) and exposed me to a side of life I had never experienced.  He then introduced me to lives lived on the streets of Memphis.  Talk about an experience.  Actually I did here:

Every stone in the walls of my ivory palace was blown all to damned pieces...and I loved it.

Now, to the reason this surfaced this morning.  I read a Dan Pearce blog this morning.  I'm not sure when he wrote it, but I can bet he took some heat for it, and I figure I probably will too.  But hey, I wrote yesterday about breaking rules, so why not?

The title of his blog was "I'm Christian...unless you're gay."

Yeah, that. 
Oh no he didn't! 
Oh yes he did!
Oddly enough, his blog really isn't about homosexuality.  Well, ok, yes it is, but not only about that.  It's long, but it's a good read, and should actually be converted to pamphlet form and put on every information table in every building that keeps the church dry while they meet.  Whether you agree with him or not, you (we) should read this and let it soak in for a while. 

Read it here...

His blog is a call to love...period.  But before we can love...period...we have to be able to judge less.  It's tough.  Believe me. 

I'm at a new place now.  Actually in my third year of ministry in a new place.  God has answered that prayer from a few years ago...BIG.

Almost every day I get the opportunity to decide if I'm going to judge...or love.  Almost every day of the week I have someone come through my door whose life is a complete damned mess...they're gay and no one understands them...they're back on the bottle and need some help...they're popping pills again and damn near died this time...they're at the end of their rope and don't know where else to go... and I have to decide, "Am I going to be Christian...unless..."?  Or, am I going to love them? 

Like I mentioned yesterday, sometimes love brings with it some pretty tough words, but tough words can be said out of love.  I've had to do that, but I'm learning that the person in front of me is more than the problem that brought them to me.  Whether it's alcohol, drugs, soliciting prostitution, wild living, going back to jail, or just the desire to get the hell out of Dodge and run away...they are people, created in the image of the living God, and I was commanded to love them.

It has meant a completely different way of thinking for me.  I have discovered a lot of shades of grey.  I have learned that there are very few absolutes.  I have discovered that I don't have to support the lifestyle and that I really can separate the person from the problem.  Mostly I have learned that your "right or wrong" and your idea of truth may not be someone else's...even if "the bible says..."  Because...unless I've read it wrong, Jesus said two things really those God loves.  That's it. 

So...I made the mistake of praying once...and I am so glad I did. 

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