A different focus

As I’ve seen the repercussions of the SCOTUS decision, I’ve become acutely aware of how imperfect I am. Before I go into this, this isn’t some share my sins game so people think I’m a good Christian who is humble blah blah blah. This is me letting you into my life so you can see a little of how it really is, apart from what I share, funny things, and little nuggets of wisdom God gives me to share. It’s a good facade, but I don’t like those.

There are many things in my life that I need to work on. I’m prideful, struggle with lust, and have been complacent. Let’s not get into my prayer or devotional life for the past year. It’s been spotty at best. Those are the obvious things, and things I could say are wrong with my life. Let’s go deeper than that.

Here is how God is changing and refining me. I still desire to know God, and he’s shifting my focus from being performance based to relational based. That has generally been my desire when I interact with people, is to “be good” for them. In short, I’m a people pleaser. This has gotten me into trouble, because I wasn’t good at setting a boundary as to how much I could give. I would either get hurt, burnt out, or both. I wanted to be good and whatever I needed to be to make people happy because of my fear of the negative consequences if I didn’t. I always feared a break in the relationship if I didn’t do right. I treat God the same way as I do other people. Surprised? Me either.

After a process I’ve been approaching God in a different way. A way that is safe, without fear of judgment. It’s the same kind of safe place I feel when I go to talk to my best friends, that I just want to talk to them because I care about them. I just want to know them. To talk to them. I’m not running away from them because I’ve done something bad. In fact, they’re the very people I can own my mistakes with because they get me. They also know how to say I was a bozo in a loving way, and what ways I can go about changing if need be. They accept me for who I am right now, not some figment of who I think I should be.

You know what I feel when I process that they accept me? Pure, unbridled, deep-tingling joy. I didn’t have to do anything but be me. And it’s not a me characterized by things I’ve done wrong in the past, but a me that is the sum of all the good and bad I am. The me that is included in my personality, gifts, and attributes. It’s the same me that God know so much more deeply in all my intricacies and He not only accepted me, He died for me. How crazy is that?

Think for a moment. Don’t think about your sin, it’s common to hear Christ died so that we can be sanctified. It’s true. We know that. Instead, think about the sum of the individual that you are and that you are loved. Think about the other billions of individuals who each have their own story, just like you who Christ died for as well. It’s overwhelming how God can love this much. It’s hard for us to love just one partner for marriage completely, our family members, and our friends completely. God loves us entirely. It only makes sense because God is love. Love is infinite, because God is infinite.

God gives us that same love and shares it with us. We are given chances every day to be a representation of the infinite love coming from God. The English language (or maybe my vocabulary here) fails to encapsulate all that love is and means. It’s more than romance. It’s more than a good feeling for a cute animal. It’s also when things aren’t easy. We have the chance to ask ourselves, “Is this the right way, the best way, to treat this person?” Sometimes this will require heavy introspection within ourselves, and sometimes it also require setting boundaries with the person of inquiry. Love isn’t all fuzzy feelings of goodness. Sometimes it is rather difficult, and you will bleed.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
-1 John 3:1

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
–1 John 4:7-21

Thoughts on gay marriage

How should we feel about legalizing gay marriage as Christians?

This question brings up a lot of derision and strong feelings. Conservative Christians do not feel like it is Biblical. As such, that is how they vote.

We have been given a power unprecedented in history. We have the freedom to vote based on our beliefs. We elect officials who hold our beliefs and turn to social media to make our voices loud.

To be honest, much of this ruckus sounds a whole lot like the clanging cymbals in Corinthians. We mean well, but by being vocal about our position on gay marriage we isolate the ones we are claiming we love. You know, just like the woman saved from being stoned. We’ve switched sides from the protector to the ones throwing the rocks.

They’re causing a lot of damage. Our pharisitical nature has bought a reputation of judgment and condemnation. Not community and love. How are we different from the others on the other side of the religious fence who disagree with gay marriage?

What about our position on other sins? If we are vocal about one sin, why aren’t we vocal about another? What about our laypeople addicted to porn and sleeping around? What about the malicious gossip that destroys peoples’ lives? Stealing? Lying? Manipulation? Oh that we would rip out the log in our own eyes and weep at our short-sightedness! Oh that we would go above and beyond to lament and ask forgiveness so that healing can come!

Have we any right to pass judgment on those outside of our faith? They are not bound to the same commands Jesus has given us. We become the parents who squash their children and repress them. In the end they are bitter and rebel against everything they were taught to believe. Good intentions are now out the window.

As we think about how to vote and believe about gay marriage, remember we are not a theocracy or a Christian nation. The Christian “nation” is not bound by borders. It is the Church and the Kingdom of God. Should we bind and force our morality on those who already resent it? Would there be a better way to hold our beliefs and still advance the Gospel through a better way of loving those around us? If marriage were declared illegal, wouldn’t we still have marriage anyway because it’s biblical? Does it change the fact Christ-based marriage is found in the church?

Thanks Matthew for those lady couple of thoughts.