conversation with a friend

[Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.–Jesus]

I am posting a conversation with a friend. Maybe you can join our conversation. Obviously, neither of us are perfect, but I think he asks some good questions and makes some good points. Wrestle with it–it will make you stronger. I asked him why he was so angry with Christians right now. Here is his answer with mine following it.

i posted some silly, humorous attack on the arguments that are usually offered as to why homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to get married, because honestly this is a fight where i think the church has lost its footing… anyway, i was attacked.. hardcore… by people from church, by people from camp, by people that i respect and love… and not in a compasionate way.. with anger and hatred.. and the more i responded the harsher the messages coming back became… i don’t want to be part of something that can generate so much violence and hate… i can’t swallow it any more… my faith is in a shambles.. partially my fault, hell mostly my fault, but how can i commune with people that will question my christianity and my morality because i disagree with them on the political aspects of gay marriage… is gay marriage against god’s plan.. probably, but does that mean we should create a second class citizen status for them? if i dont’ think so, am i not being a christian… it hurts that i have to even think about this when i see close friends of mine who want nothing more than the legal ability to visit their partner in the hospital or have some rights after their partners death in a relationship that lasts for decades… why does it have to be like this, lon? where is the love in this religion?

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said religion. Unfortunately, I think for many “christians” it is a religion and not a relationship. Jesus didn’t come to give us a religion. He came to save us from religion–a life dominated by rules and labels. Instead, he came to invite us into a life of reconnection with God, people, and the world around us. The truth is, that at the foot of the cross, every human is equal–we are all miserable sinners, the thing is that some of us manage our sins in more acceptable ways than others, that again is not what Jesus gave his life up for. He came to free us from sin, not to help us manage it better. He calls us to love with this incredible ‘agape’ love. I just discovered that this is a kind of love that was so precious, that most greek speakers were very careful to not throw the term around. It is the most noble form of love, where you see something infinitely precious in the object that you love. This is the way that God sees us and the way that Jesus tells us to love others. So what is it that God sees? His image. Regardless of what we do or have done, we all bear his image–for some of us, it’s more tarnished than for others, but it’s still there. As humans, He has breathed a spirit into us, that leads to us needing to be intimately connected with Him in order to experience the life that we were created for. And apparently, in spite of everything we have ever done and will do, he sees past that, sees something infinitely precious in us and determined that we were worth dying for. So why can’t we see those intimately precious things in each other? Why do I struggle to see past the surface? I wonder if labels and division seems safer. If I put a divisive label on you, then I am giving myself permission to not deal with you. If I don’t have to deal with you, then I don’t have to deal with me and my issues. Rather than wrestling with the deeper issues of homosexuality, rather than reaching for the heart of one who practices it, and rather than having to think through our faith–in order to “protect” ourselves, we attack and divide. This isn’t the life that Jesus spoke of in John 13.34-35 and John 17.23. It breaks my heart and I can see that it breaks yours. The temptation then is to attack back, to label and to separate. Unfortunately, when we do that, we become the thing we hate. I think that when God looks at us, He loves us infinitely more than we could ever comprehend–but He loves the true me. He would tell me, and probably is telling me, “I love you more than you could ever know, but I hate some of the things that you do, because those things are destroying the true you. They are keeping you from putting me on display. They are keeping you from being intimately connected with me and with others. I hate some of the things you do, because I love you and I want what’s best for you. I hate those things, but I love you more than I could ever hate those things and I know that if you begin to experience my true, healing love–all of those things will lose their value in your life as I become more valuable to you, as your eyes are opened to the bigger, truer life.” Isn’t this how Jesus affected miraculous change in the lives that he touched? God, help us to dig deep into your love so that we can get over ourselves and start loving the people around us, like You love us. May your love peel away the junk, the lies, and the ugliness so that we may become the beauty that You see and believe is worth dying for. I don’t know if this helps, but thanks for listening and please join me in praying that God will transform us into something bigger and more like Jesus.

So what do you think? What would you bring to the conversation? What are you wrestling with?