It seems that Jesus always reserved His harshest words for the religious elite of His day. Yet to the outcast and down trodden He spoke words of forgiveness and grace. To an adulterous woman at a well, “…ask Him (Jesus) and He will give you living water. ” (John 4) A woman caught in the act of adultery, “I don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on don’t sin anymore.” (John 8) To a dirty leper, “I am willing; be made clean.” (Matthew 8) To a grieving sister, “Your brother will rise again.” (John 11)
My eyes were reopened to this same grace at our most recent Student Ministry. Slightly off topic, one of our high school girls said something that really got me thinking. She said this, “I would rather be a gay person, striving to know and serve God, than a Christian who is just faking it.” At first, this thought set me back. Most Christians would have wanted to scold her for this thought. How dare she say such a thing! This is high treason. We hear that she would rather be gay than a Christian and we immediately think some form of heresy. This is where the culture around her is helping to shape her beliefs and her opinions. Here’s the scary part; I agree with her and I think Jesus would too.
Jesus withheld His strongest criticism for the people of His day who were faking it. In Matthew 23, spanning verses 13 through 33, Jesus comes on with some extremely harsh language towards those who felt they were somehow superior to the “sinners” around them. One of my favorite sections is found in verses 27 & 28 which read, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Ouch! Just about the time you expect Jesus to praise someone for knowing all the rules and having all the “right” answers, He nails them to the wall. That’s because Christianity is not about rule-following, it’s about relationship-abiding.
Followers of Christ are encouraged to abide in Him, to stay attached to the vine, to be fully connected to Him who gives life. And yet, there are some Christians who run around and look really good on the outside, but ultimately they’re only about rules and they have missed the point.
Is it any wonder that Christians have completely missed with the gay community? Is it any wonder that they don’t come to us looking for spiritual guidance? Why would they? Just like the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and dragged out of her home by the religious elite, we have made the same public mockery of the gay community. But Jesus responded differently to her then and He does the same today. He responded with the question, “Which of you is without sin? You throw the first rock.” And yet Christians today continue to fake their religious and spiritual superiority over people. And Jesus looks at us today and says the same words, “Which of you is without sin? You throw the first rock.”
Where is the grace? Where are the Christians who are offering the world the same grace that Christ offered while He walked this earth? For a more thorough understanding of how a church should be reaching out to people who don’t share our values, please read Stripped by Jud Wilhite.
So when people around you begin to make these types of statements, will you be the first to jump all over them with the same judgmental rhetoric the church has been putting out there for years? Or will you be one of the few to stand up and admit that maybe we aren’t where we need to be in our own lives? Maybe, just maybe, the Christian community can still have a positive impact in this area of our world if we would stay connected to the True Vine and take a page directly out of His playbook. Maybe we should offer the same uncensored grace and stop faking Christianity. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one.