What the World Expects
Today the Christian Church is under a microscope–not the Adventist Church, but every church. With the SCOTUS decision regarding “same sex marriage” this past week, the world is looking toward the church like never before.
I wish I could say that they are expecting love from the church. I wish I could say that they’d find love there.
Sadly, I think that the spotlight is on the Christian Church, and the world will not see Love.
I’m talking about capital-L-Love, the Love of God (not the perversion of Love we see in the world). The world may think that’s all there is for them, but we know better.
The church knows better.
We know that God is Love (1 John 4:8). We also know that we are His children, and His hands and feet on earth, and should shine Jesus to the world like a city on a hill. So why don’t we?
What Jesus Expects
I have seen several articles bring to life a slogan that was quite popular when I was in grade school. We would walk the hallways brandishing rubber bracelets with WWJD? so everyone would know who we stood for. I’ve seen similar things lately–many in-your-face social media posts about Christians acting unChristlike, and it makes me sad.
What would Jesus do? I’m willing to guess that Jesus wouldn’t be posting articles blasting the “other side”. He wouldn’t stand behind a pulpit on Sabbath and discuss what love is or isn’t. Jesus is Love. He is the most basic form of it.
John 15 is my favorite passage that describes who we are in Jesus Christ. Specifically, verses 13 and 17 speak volumes about Love. Verse 13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus loved. He loved enough to die for us, and for our sins–all of them. The sins we act on and are caught in, those that we hide, and those we fantasize about. He died for us despite them.
That same Jesus commands us to love in verse 17: “These things I command you, that you love one another.” He didn’t specify who we should love, but if we follow His example, and other scriptures we see that we should love our neighbors; we should love everyone.
As Christians this love should be foremost in our minds. If the world sees nothing else from the church, it should be love. We shouldn’t blast the other side any more than we expect Jesus would. Jesus would love them despite all things.
Does Balance Mean Compromise?
Loving the people in the world does not mean loving what they do, or even supporting it. The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists released an official statement today regarding the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, and I support this statement. That last sentence of the short statement said, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes that all people, regardless of race, gender, and sexual orientation are God’s children and should be treated with civility, compassion, and Christ-like love.” Is this what we are reflecting? Again, not as an Adventist church, but as the Christian community, are we reflecting love?
I don’t think the world is expecting love from the church, because on an individual basis, I’m not certain they receive it. I think they’re expecting judgement. I think they’re expecting anger. I think they’re expecting skepticism. We scroll through our social media newsfeed and our minds may wander to the future–to when a young couple with bright eyes asks our pastor to perform their ceremony, and asks to use our church.
What is the civil thing to do? Offer them Bible studies?
The truth is we don’t know what to do. It’s easy to offer them Bible studies, which they will most likely decline, and move on to the next clergy. It’s easy to let them, but is that what Christ would do?
The relentless God who seeks and saves the lost would not let them walk away.
It’s interesting that the LGBT movement chose the rainbow as their symbol. We all have symbols that mean something very deep to us. Some are very controversial right now, like the rainbow flag, and the Confederate flag. Both symbols mean something quite different to different individuals. They can be positive feelings, or deeply negative ones. Usually the ideals attached to a symbol are due to experience or culture, these two flags in particular.
The reason I find the rainbow flag so interesting is because the rainbow is hugely Biblical. I know that some strong advocates for the LGBT movement are professed atheists, but others are Christians. Yet they all find hope in God’s symbol of the rainbow.
God placed a bow in the sky as a symbol of a covenant between God and man. He promised that He would never again flood the whole earth, destroying man. The bow was common to men as a weapon and God used it as a beautiful symbol to make a promise. He used a bow, He made it beautiful, and He pointed it away from earth. The weapon pointed away from us cannot hurt us.
The symbol of the rainbow is a victorious one for all of humanity.
Someone told me recently that he couldn’t believe that the world had taken even the rainbow and perverted it. He was angry about it! How dare they!?
It may seem like they have ruined something the Bible believers have had between them and God, but I don’t see it this way. I think the LGBT Community is clinging to a hope that God is merciful. They’re right about God. He is merciful and He is love, and if they don’t know the God of order and commandments yet, it’s because they just don’t know Him yet.
Changing the Heart
You can be sure that the world won’t change because we will it. Our homosexual friend or family member will not change because we post sermons or Bible verses on our Facebook wall. They won’t change if we refuse to marry them in our church.
We cannot change a human heart, but by loving it. Love changes all things in the light of the Word.
We do not have to love the law of the world to love those in the world. I have friends who are strong supporters of the LGBT movement, some because they identify with this orientation, and others who don’t. I don’t say this to prove anything about myself, but to make one simple point: my experience is that prayer, kindness, and love on an individual basis can make a heart-changing difference in a person. It has for some of my friends. Prayer can make a difference for your loved one too. Sometimes building a bridge is easier than shouting across the raging waters. When we build a bridge from one heart to another, we have a better chance at understanding, of healing, and loving.
It is time to love like Jesus. Today, more than ever we need to love like Jesus, one person at a time, one heart at a time.