In this message we will look at how deeply Jesus believed all people matter to God. It ran so deep for him that it got him into a lot of trouble. And then we will look at what it means for Blue Oaks; and for our gay friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers.
I was thinking about this all week… what is it that moves me when I watch a video like that? What is it that just goes way down deep into my soul?
I think it’s because when I hear a story like that, I’m reminded about the incalculable worth of a single human being.
When I watch that, I’m reminded of how invaluable a single human being is. And I’m reminded that a kid like Greg is living a very real life, with pressures and anxieties and hopes and dreams.
And I’m reminded that every person on this earth is living a very real life. We may not all believe the same stuff, but we all struggle with the same temptations, fears, insecurities, and doubts.
Now, to begin today I want to acknowledge that there are gay Christians at Blue Oaks today who are wondering, “Is this going to be the Sunday when you let us have it? Is this the Sunday when you teach from Leviticus and Romans 1 and tell us we’re not welcome here?”
I want you to know up front. That’s not going to happen.
If you’re gay, you are welcome at Blue Oaks.
I want this church to be the safest place in the world to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.
And as I’ve thought and prayed about this for he last couple months — here’s how I’d like us to approach talking about this issue.
The premise of the book Torn — which I highly recommend if you haven’t read anything on this issue — Torn by Justin Lee. The premise of this book is that this issue is tearing apart the church not externally, but internally.
Because the battle lines have been drawn.
There are two sides to the issue. One shouts, “More truth”; the other shouts, “More love.”
Let me explain why I believe this issue is tearing apart the church. And what we can do differently.
Most people, on both sides of the issue, ask the same questions:
Do you believe being gay is sin?
Do you believe married gay people are violating God’s design?
These are closed-ended questions. Closed-ended questions anticipate a short, opinionated closed-ended response.
Closed-ended questions are made to be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
John Richardson, a professor of information studies at UCLA, says, “closed-ended questions discourage disclosure.”
They discourage deep conversation.
Usually people who ask these questions have already answered the question for themselves and are only seeking to figure out where the other person fits within their own preconceived ideas — either for or against.
Even the most well-intentioned people routinely ask closed-ended, opinion-based questions in an attempt to grasp who you are, what you believe and which side of the issue you should be placed on.
And the yes or no responses to those questions quickly trigger a predetermined set of thoughts and beliefs already in place for a yes answer… as well as a different set of predetermined thoughts and beliefs already in place for a no answer.
Just think about how absurd this is.
A one word answer to the most divisive topic in the church today is universally accepted as the normal way to handle the issue of same-sex attraction.
And I believe this is what continues to build walls between gay people and the church.
Closed-ended questions create separation in an us verses them mindset rather than give an opportunity for productive bridge building.
So the first thing I want to encourage you to do as you approach a conversation on this issue, whether you’re talking to a person in the church or outside the church, gay or straight, is try not to ask closed-ended questions.
And if you’re asked a closed-ended question, try not to answer it with a closed-ended answer.
This is something Jesus modeled throughout the gospels.
One conversation Jesus had was with the religious leaders of his day as they tried to trap him about paying taxes to Caesar.
Knowing the simplistic answer to their question, Jesus didn’t respond with a yes or no, but rather elevated the conversation by asking his own question.
Jesus understood their intentions. He knew they were trying to trap him.
Realizing that one-word answers would only feed into the growing disconnect between his followers and the religious system of that day, Jesus took another approach.
And I want to ask you to take a similar approach as you’re having conversations with people… especially people from the LGBTQ community.
I’m simply asking you to consider how Jesus would handle the conversation about same-sex attraction in our day.
I believe Jesus would elevate the greatest command — that we are to love people — even those who some of you have purposely separated yourself from.
Jesus would reach out and show kindness to gay people.
And if we cannot love gay people as we love ourselves, we’re disobeying Jesus command, which I would go so far as to say is the worst sin of all.
If the greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as our self, then the greatest sin is the refusal to obey the greatest command.
Let me put it more plainly — if you don’t love gay people because you believe they’re sinning, your sin — not loving — is worse than what you think their sin is because you’re violating the greatest commandment of Jesus. I would be more concerned with that if I were you.
We sometimes ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”
I think this is a great question when it comes to how we treat gay people. Because I believe Jesus would reach out and love gay people. He would treat them with dignity and respect.
And by the way, the way to build bridges with gay people is not to debate on what the Bible says about same-sex attraction. That’s not going to build bridges.
I don’t do that with straight people who are divorced and remarried. I’m not going to build bridges by telling them everything the writers of Scripture say about divorce and remarriage.
We need to provide a place where gay couples and their families can be welcome and where they can take their next step in their spiritual journey, whatever that is.
If we’re going to build bridges, we need to learn to listen and validate their stories.
A friend of mine wrote a book on homosexuality and the church.
He interviewed people in the LGBTQ community all over the world.
The last question he asked in the interview was, “What advice would you give someone when they encounter a young person who is dealing with same-sex attraction?”
The overwhelming, immediate response was LISTEN.
Listening is a great gesture of love and acceptance, especially for young people.
A lot of young people, especially those in the church, are fearful of rejection and oftentimes remain silent. They need someone in their lives who will listen to them.
And in our desire to help or “fix” the situation, we often get distracted from listening. We want to offer advice and solutions so quickly that we fail to listen.
It’s critical we become quick to listen and slow to speak.
When I lived in Chicago I attended a church there where the motto was, “People matter to God.”
It’s just about the simplest motto ever: People matter to God.
But I would say the whole deal really is that simple: People matter to God.
And we need to hear stories that remind us… that’s really true.
In the time that we have left today, I want to talk about how deeply Jesus believed people matter to God; how deep that went.
And how it ran so deep for him, he believed it so strongly — this idea that all people matter to God — that it got him into a lot of trouble.
And then I want to talk a little bit about what that means for you and me… and for our gay friends, and family members, and neighbors and coworkers.
One day in Jesus’ ministry, he kind of dropped a bomb.
Early in his ministry he’d been teaching in Galilee, which is Jewish territory. His disciples were with him and things were going quite well.
In Mark 4:1 it says:
The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge.
And in Mark 4:35:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”
That’s the bomb.
The other side of the lake was actually a technical term in Jesus’ day.
He wasn’t just talking about geography.
What Jesus was saying was… let’s go from the region of Galilee across the Sea of Galilee into the Decapolis region.
Decapolis was the Greek word for ‘10 Cities,’ and it was considered enemy territory.
There was a Jewish tradition in Jesus’ day… in the Old Testament in Joshua 3:10, he says:
God will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.
These were known as the seven nations of Canaan.
In Acts 13:19, Paul says:
God overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance.
Rabbinic tradition in Jesus’ day said the Decapolis is where the seven nations of Canaan settled down.
It was filled with non-Jewish temples, ruins of which are still being excavated today.
Decapolis was also a center for Roman power.
Do you know what animal in Israel was regarded as the most unclean animal?
It was the pig.
On the other side, pigs were worshipped.
And in the Decapolis there was a legion of soldiers — 6,000 Roman soldiers were stationed on the other side.
The symbol for the legion was a boar’s head… the head of a pig.
The Jews regarded the other side as the place where God was absent. They considered it dark and evil.
For a long time the church has considered the LGBTQ community a place where God is absent — a place of darkness and evil — so this parallel I’m making here today is not a stretch.
No Jewish person would go to the other side, especially not a rabbi.
I think it’s safe to say a lot of Christians feel about the LGBTQ community the way Jesus’ followers felt about the Decapolis.
And then one day the disciples find their rabbi, Jesus, just casually say, “Hey, guys, let’s go over to the other side.”
What’s he doing?
Doesn’t he know that the Kingdom is supposed to come for Israel?
It’s almost like he didn’t know it was the other side.
It’s almost like he thinks it’s his side.
It’s almost like he thinks every side belongs to him.
It’s almost like he thinks that all the nations of the earth are going to be blessed through him, even the seven nations of Canaan.
Well, we read in Mark 5 that Jesus and the disciples go over and land in the Decapolis area.
Now Jesus had been drawing big crowds on the Jewish side in Galilee because he was healing the blind, the lame, the lepers, those who were demon possessed, and all kinds of sick people.
When they go over to the Decapolis, there’s no one there to meet him.
There’s one man possessed by an evil spirit; he’s the only one. That’s the reception committee.
And it’s no surprise… because this is the other side. No one goes to the other side.
And this one man who is here is so desperate that the text says no one could subdue him. They would try to chain him, but that did no good.
He was wild; he lived among the tombs; he cut himself with rocks; he would cry out in torment.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!”
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
Anyone remember what the response is?
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” Mark 5:6-9
Now ‘Legion’ is a loaded word. This story is full of loaded words and images.
There’s a legion of foreign soldiers who live there, because that’s the other side.
It’s a reminder of all the powers that Jesus is up against.
The demons that possess this man are afraid of Jesus, and they ask to be sent into a group of animals — into pigs.
There’s a herd of 2,000 pigs, and they rush down a steep bank into a lake and they drown.
This would read very differently to an Israelite in Jesus’ day than it does to us.
We think of pigs as kind of cute little animals like Porky Pig, and so this seems kind of sad to us.
Well, back in Jesus’ day, a pig’s head was the symbol of the Roman legion, Roman power.
So this would read in the first century to an Israelite as a battle between the forces of darkness and light.
And it’s no contest; the pigs lose.
And the people’s response is very fascinating.
Mark 5:14-17 says:
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside,
You better believe they did. Imagine being a pig herder and you come home with no pigs. And your boss asks where the pigs are. All you have to tell him is, “They all committed mass suicide.”
and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man — and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
It’s a very interesting response.
They don’t respond by saying, “Wow, this is a man with power; this is great. They don’t think, I have a sick mom, I have a tormented child, I have a troubled friend… this man with power could help them.”
They begged this man, Jesus, to go away. He’s got power… but he’s from the other side.
Someone from the other side could hurt us.
Someone from the other side is going to have an agenda.
Someone from the other side is going to have an attitude of superiority or judgmentalism or distance.
They’re afraid of someone from the other side.
The people beg him to go away… and so Jesus does.
It’s most interesting in Mark 5:18:
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
You’ve got to picture this scene in your mind. This man prostrates himself before Jesus:
“I’ve been living here in this situation all my life, and it’s destroyed me. Let me leave here. I just want to be with you. I’ll leave everything, everyone I know, everything I have, I just want to follow you.”
He doesn’t just make this request; he begs, he cries, he’s desperate.
And Jesus says no.
Jesus, who up until now has been going around on his side proclaiming, “Now the Kingdom of God has become present on this earth, in me, in my body, and in my teachings.”
“The Kingdom is now available, and you can walk right on into it.
Jesus says to this man, “Don’t follow me. Stay here. Go tell your story.”
Imagine that man’s feeling when the boat rows away and he’s not in it.
But he says to himself, I will do what he said. He saved my life. If he asked me to tell other people about him, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
We’ll come back to this.
Now Jesus wants to make sure his disciples get it, because sometimes the followers of Jesus have a difficult time understanding how much he loves all people, including people on the other side, and that to him it’s like every side belongs to him.
They have a hard time getting that.
They have a tendency to want to kind of hang out on their side and think that their side is the best.
Kind of a funny thing isn’t it?
Another time Jesus is teaching… again on the other side. We read about this in Mark 8.
Let’s walk through the details of this story.
A crowd of 4,000 people gather. Jesus says to his disciples in Mark 8:2:
I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and having nothing to eat.
Okay, this is Mark 8.
I want to do a contrast for a moment.
If you look back in Mark 6, there’s another account of a miraculous feeding where Jesus feeds a crowd of 5,000 people.
In Mark 6 it happens on the Israel side. And we’re told in Mark 6 that the disciples come to Jesus on the first day.
In Mark 6 it’s the disciples who initiate concern for the crowd. They tell Jesus the people need something to eat.
And so Jesus miraculously feeds them.
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. Mark 6:42-43
Now when an Israelite heard the number 12, they would inevitably think of one thing: the 12 tribes of Israel. That was a sacred number to an Israelite.
That’s a picture of the people of God, God’s community.
How many disciples were there?
Jesus is sending a message. When he chooses 12 disciples, that’s a very courageous move on Jesus’ part. It’s a real gutsy thing.
He is deliberately telling people, symbolically and in a way that everyone would understand, that now the true community of Israel is being restored… is being assembled, by him.
It’s no accident that there were 12 disciples. And it’s no accident that there were 12 baskets.
People would immediately have this association that God is providing for his people. God has not forgotten his people. God cares about his people.
Okay that’s Mark 6.
Back to Mark 8.
Jesus is teaching on the other side and there’s a huge crowd of 4,000 people gathered together.
Jesus teaches one day; disciples don’t say anything.
Jesus teaches two days; they say nothing.
Third day, the disciples still don’t say anything about wanting to feed the crowd.
Because they’re on the other side. Let them feed themselves.
But Jesus has compassion, and he miraculously feeds the people on the other side just like he miraculously fed Israel.
And he sends some disciples around for leftovers. Now get this:
The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Mark 8:8
This time, not 12; this time, 7 baskets of food left over.
And there’s a reason for that.
How many nations of Canaan were there that the Jews believed lived in the Decapolis on the other side?
How many baskets of food? 7
Jesus is saying, “You know, good news is coming for the twelve tribes of Israel; I haven’t forgotten about them. They’re mine; I want to feed them.
“And good news is coming for the seven nations of Canaan. I haven’t forgotten them either. They’re mine, too. I’ll feed them, too.
“Twelve tribes, seven nations—it doesn’t matter to me; I love them all.
You see, the gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is good news for everyone… even people on the other side.
One more detail to this story.
When Jesus goes over to the other side the first time, just one guy meets him. And when the people hear what goes on, they leave and they beg Jesus to leave.
On a second trip, when Jesus comes back to the region of the Decapolis — we read about this in Matthew 15 —
Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30-31
The other side praises the God of Israel.
The first time Jesus went to the other side, no one was home except one demon-tormented man. And everyone begged him to leave.
The second time he comes, he has one of the most dramatic responses to his arrival in all of the New Testament.
One man told his story… that’s what happened.
One man traveled from one town to another, from one neighborhood to another, and said, “Let me tell you about this man Jesus and what he did for me.”
And it changed whole cities.
Interesting thing, isn’t it?
There’s a way that that man could reach people on the other side that no one, not even Jesus’ disciples initially, not even Jesus himself, could reach.
One day our rabbi said, “Good news is coming to the other side. And the reality is, they’re my side too.
“They just don’t know it yet, because my followers have gotten in the way so they can’t see it. So you… demon possessed one… I’m going to use you to reach them!”
Imagine when they returned and there were these vast crowds.
Then Jesus sees this man who had been tormented by demons and set free; and Jesus says to him, “You know… the last time I came here, they begged me to leave and now they can’t get enough. Now they’re wide open to the Kingdom.
“And it’s because of you.”
Here’s the thing: Jesus loves the other side.
And what a different world we would live in if the church could really understand that — that it’s all his side.
He hasn’t divided it up the way the church has in the past: our side/the other side; the right side/the wrong side. It’s just all his side.
But then… he has the oddest strategy for how he plans on infiltrating and reaching the other side.
And that brings us to the church, to you and me.
The last thing Jesus does before he leaves, he gathers his friends together and says, “Okay now, everything I know, everything I’ve been teaching you about the Kingdom… it’s all handed over to you. And here’s the strategy: I’m sending you to the other side.
“I’m leaving now. I’ve been teaching you, and you’ve been watching me do these things.
“The Holy Spirit is going to come upon you, and you shall receive power. You’ll be my witnesses to Jerusalem and then to Judea and then to Samaria and then you’re going to be scattered all over the earth.
“You’re going to go over to the other side. It’ll be difficult sometimes, but don’t be discouraged about it.
“This is my strategy: I’m sending you to the other side. They’re your responsibility now. Figure out how to love them and welcome them into my kingdom.”
Now I imagine they were very disappointed in that strategy. It’s almost laughable.
A couple hundred people; what are the odds?
Think about it. If you were a Martian looking down on the world in the first century in about the year 35 A.D., who would you think was more likely to survive: Christianity or the Roman Empire?
You would not bet on a rag-tag group of a couple hundred people claiming that an obscure carpenter had risen from the grave.
And yet his movement was so successful that today we give our children names like Peter and Paul and Mary… and we name our dogs Caesar and Nero.
How did that happen?
Was it because they got better at religious arguing than anyone else?
Was it because they had so many financial resources and fabulous buildings and more stuff than anyone else?
No… it happened for one reason: because the presence and the way of Jesus was so strongly in their midst that they became good news for the other side.
The world had simply, as a matter of historical record, never seen anything like this.
And, of course, this is the vision around which this church was born.
Anytime we do something to try to reach more people in this community… I want you to know it’s because Jesus compels us to become good news to the other side.
I’ll give you a few examples of how this vision worked in the early history of the church.
In the Roman Empire, people in another socio-economic class lived on the other side, because it was an extremely status and class-dominated society.
Roman culture was strictly hierarchical… people were divided into classes.
The Equestrian Class was at the top. This class was determined by wealth.
A little lower than them was what was called the Decurion Class. This class was also very wealthy. You might have some power in the local government.
Below that were Citizens. You had less wealth, but you had rights as a Roman.
Below Citizens were what were called Freed-People. They had once been slaves, but by one way or another had been able to obtain their freedom.
And then in the very lowest level were the Slaves; bottom of the ladder.
And you often showed what your status was… because life just ran that way.
Your clothes showed your status.
I know, it’s hard to believe human society was once so superficial that clothes were used to declare status… but that’s the way it was.
If you went to a formal meal, the Equestrian class was served first and they were served what was best.
Then came the Decurion class, then came the Citizens, and then came the Freed-People. And then, if there was anything left over, it would be the Slaves.
That’s just the way life was. No one challenged it.
But then there was this new odd community that came to be called the Church.
And they thought to themselves, “You know, when Jesus was here, he didn’t do that.”
They remembered that Jesus said…
The son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and give his life a ransom for all. Matthew 20:28
Imagine you’re a slave. Someone invites you, and you come to this strange meeting of this group of followers in the church.
There’s a meal being served. You come in, and they bring you to the table. You’re a Slave and as you sit, an Equestrian kneels down and serves you food.
Do you have any idea how countercultural that would have been?
And you’re just weeping, because you’re a slave; you’ve never been served your whole life long.
And the Equestrian starts to weep because he’s never before known this joy of shared humanity.
You see, what has happened is — Jesus has gone to the other side… and so the church goes to the other side.
And in the church there is no ‘other’ side anymore.
Another example. In the ancient world, was it better to be born a girl or a boy?
In the ancient world, being born a girl was not a lucky thing.
One historian writes: “The abandonment of unwanted female infants was legal, morally accepted and widely practiced by all social classes in the Greco-Roman world.”
There’s a letter that dates from the time of Jesus, from about the first century and it was written by a husband to his wife. This is what he writes:
“Know that I am still in Alexandria. I beg you to take good care of our baby son. If you are delivered of a child before I come home, if it is a boy, keep it. If it is a girl, discard it.”
This guy thinks of himself as a good husband. It’s just the world they lived in — “if it’s a boy, keep it; if it’s a girl, discard it.”
But then there’s this strange thing called the church.
They remember that Jesus treated women with honor. He even taught them. He received them into his little community; he valued them; and he included them.
And they remembered that all life was sacred, and that girl babies as well as boy babies were to be prized.
Under Caesar Augustus in Rome, widows were forced to remarry or were actually fined for outliving their husbands. They had to pay taxes to the Roman government if they lived longer than their husbands.
But in the church, care for widows was one of the marks of the true followers of Christ.
One of Jesus’ followers, Paul, wrote to the church in Galatia:
In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
Thomas Cahill says Jesus is the first person in the history of world literature to argue that all human beings are equal.
And it wasn’t just an idea; early Christians lived it.
Is it any wonder that women flocked to the church… and will flock to it still when they’re treated by it the way they were treated by Jesus?
One more example.
Two times in the early history of the church, 165 A.D. and about 251 A.D., there were epidemics… it may have been smallpox… that killed between a fourth and a third of the population of the Empire.
One Roman historian writes that the population in general pushed sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into roads before they were dead.
They treated unburied corpses as dirt, hoping to avert disease.
But then in this strange community called the church, people thought, “You know, when Jesus was alive, he cared for the sick. He would touch lepers when no one else would, and he healed even when he got in trouble for it… and now we’re his body.”
And so they actually did what Jesus did. They took people in. They cared for the sick and the dying, even at the cost of their own lives.
These epidemics and the response of the church played a huge role in the enormous spread of the church… from a few hundred people to a point where about three and a half centuries after Jesus, over 50 percent of the Roman Empire named the name of Jesus.
And so now it’s our turn.
I just want to say a bit about what this means for you and me.
Tim Keller, a pastor in Manhattan, was teaching on Proverbs 11:10 where the writer says:
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.
There’s a certain group of people who, when they rise to the top in their field, when they make it, people around them don’t grumble and complain.
These people have such character that people around them say, “This is going to be good news for everyone, for the whole company, for the whole city.”
In the Old Testament, these people were called the ‘righteous.’
Now in our day, that word usually means self-righteous.
When’s the last time someone called you righteous and meant it as a compliment?
The Hebrew word for righteous was tseh’-dek. And this is what Keller says… I love this definition:
The righteous are those who are willing to disadvantage themselves in order to advantage the community. — Tim Keller
The righteous are those who are willing to disadvantage themselves in order to advantage the community.
Which means I’ve got to ask this question: Am I the kind of person about whom someone in my neighborhood would say:
“You know, I don’t necessarily believe everything he believes, but I shutter to think of what would happen to our neighborhood if he was not around?”
“She adds so much value, so much compassion, so much joy to our workplace. I may not agree with her faith, but I know we’d be a poorer office if she wasn’t here.”
“I don’t like the judgmental Christianity that they’re part of, but the way that person lives out their faith, caring for others and being so open to those who are not part of their faith makes me wonder.”
That’s the righteous.
Those are the people about whom Jesus says they are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.
The gospel Jesus came to proclaim is not, “Here are the minimal entrance requirements for getting into heaven when you die.”
His gospel is that the Kingdom of God is here, and it includes forgiveness by grace and life forever in heaven. But it starts here, it starts now.
And it is good news even for people who don’t believe it.
The city rejoices when the righteous prosper.
When you have someone in a neighborhood who becomes a follower of Jesus, the idea is that he or she begins to do what Jesus says… and becomes more generous and more compassionate and more friendly.
And then it becomes good for the neighborhood.
The weapons of Jesus’ Kingdom are rakes and brooms and visits and listening ears and open hands and generous hearts and those who are wiling to do whatever it takes to make room for more people to enter into his community…
And Jesus’ idea is that when someone becomes one of his followers, it’s good news for the neighbors — even the Hindu neighbors, even the Muslim neighbors, even the atheist neighbors, even the gay neighbors.
And it’s the same at the office. It’s the same at school.
Because if the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, it isn’t good news for anybody. That’s Jesus’ idea.
The mission of the church is not to make sure we are doing okay on the inside while the rest of the world goes to hell on the outside.
You know, we live in a world where it is just so easy, even for us who ought to know better, to think that it’s all about our side… and not even consider the other side.
And you hear this stuff… you hear it sometimes even on Christian radio or in magazines or in churches… “our side and their side.”
And I just want to scream, “Don’t you know that Jesus is the one who said, “The whole thing is my side. They’re all my side; I want them all.”
So here’s what I would like you to consider this week — I’m making the parallel that the other side is the LGBTQ community.
Will you love the other side?
Will you say, “Jesus, I’ll go to the other side… but I’ll need your help to love the other side. Will you help me?”
“Will you give me the courage to invite the other side into this community that you love so much?”
When people start getting the good news of Jesus right, it’s good news for the other side. It’s good news for everyone!