If you’re a ministry leader, I’m going to assume that you are familiar with the portions of Scripture I’ll reference in this piece. So, rather than take time giving Scripture references, I’ll just let what’s in my heart flow forth.
Whenever I hear a story about a gay man or woman being kicked out of their church, or otherwise having fellowship with the body of believers forcibly broken, it hurts me down in my core. I can’t, for the life of me, understand how a pastor could ever bring him/herself to disfellowship a member just because (s)he happens to be gay.
Regardless of the theological issues involved, and where you may fall on the great spectrum of beliefs, one thing that’s not up for debate is our duty as Christian leaders to feed God’s sheep. Who cares about the finer points of doctrine if how you live out what you believe is not demonstrative of the love that you claim to possess in abundance?
I can’t help but liken the present spirit that has invaded the modern church to that of the Pharisees of old. Was it not that high and holy group who opposed the Lord at every turn, who sought every opportunity to trick Him with theological arguments and cleverly disguised logical traps (like who a twice married woman would be married to in Heaven)? At what point did we reject the affirming words of Christ in preference to the misguided, blind and merciless religion of the Pharisees?
You know, you can never be more certain of the sum of what’s in a person’s heart than when they speak their final words. In those last moments, when the next word is not promised, all of the secrets come to the fore, and all apologies are made. The heart has a need to express its most pressing matters when it feels that its opportunity is coming to an end.
Among Jesus’ last words to His disciples was a brief discourse He had with his disciple, Peter. Thrice, He asked Peter concerning his love for Him, and thrice, Peter affirmed that he, indeed, loved Jesus. When Jesus was giving these parting words to Peter—the one who would stand as the mouthpiece of God on the day of Pentecost soon after—His most pressing concern was the type of care Peter would give to His people.
“Seeing as you love me,” Jesus said, “feed my sheep.”
Jesus basically said, “Look, all the zeal you’ve ever shown… cutting off a soldier’s ear, being so sure of yourself that you rose up and tried to rebuke Me when I said I would soon die… Despite it all, Peter, there’s only one way I’m going to really be able to believe that you love me. You must take care of my precious people. They are near and dear to my heart, and I am committing them to your care and keeping. Feed them. Nurture them. Support them!”
When it comes to the modern issue of homosexuality, what have so many modern Peters (spiritual leaders) done, instead? Have we fed God’s sheep, or have we cast them to the wolves of the non-Christian world? Have we received them into fellowship, taught them, encouraged them, and labored in their lives toward their spiritual growth; or rather, have we said, “You’re not good enough for my flock. Go find yourself a few same-sex partners to hump!”?
And don’t get offended. That’s ultimately what we’ve said to these people. We’ve denied them the source of encouragement and edification that all Christians need—the fellowship and support of the corporate Christian body. And to make matters worse, we then turned around and blamed them for defining their lives by the sexuality that we confined them to. A straight person would do the very same thing, when left with no other anchor.
It’s nothing short of a treason that we’ve committed against God. How dare we put the holy word of God upon our mouths, when our hearts are so far from Him? Did He not say that He would give us pastors after His heart? Well, are you one of them? Are you one who says, “Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden,” or do you say, “Come unto me, all ye who fit the bill that I, in my own righteous power and might, have set up as the standard”?
Surely, we’ve gone astray as a collective body of spiritual leaders. Surely, we must repent and beg God’s mercy upon us!
I challenge you right now, in the name of Jesus… Let go of the fake and phony standards. Stop caring more about doctrine than about lives. Yes, doctrine matters… By God, it matters! But, even while the finer points of theology are being debated and argued over, we have to remember that living, breathing human beings are suffering because we’re failing to feed them. Do you think God is pleased because at least you’re studying out the matter? Come now…
And what about when the study is over? What if you wind up concluding that homosexuality is sinful. What do you do then? Does that give you just cause to treat homosexuals in a way far removed from how Christ treated sinners? Was it not sinners whose company He enjoyed so often—you know, the ones the religious, Scripture-quoting authorities didn’t want to be around?
Look, the point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t matter if homosexuality is sinful or not if you’re not treating homosexuals with love and care, the same as you treat heterosexuals. The fact that homosexuality actually is not sinful is beside the point at this stage of the game. My God, if you’re convinced homosexuals are sinning, how much more should they, who are supposedly lost in their sinful “lifestyle,” need to hear the word of God spoken into their lives at every opportunity?
Shame on us! Shame on us for taking so battered and bruised a people and casting them to the uncertainty of a life without spiritual direction—without the spiritual leadership that God ordained in giving apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Out of their hurt, many have concluded that they don’t need a church home—that all they need is Jesus. Well, that just isn’t true! It’s a lie from hell, and we, the leaders in Christ’s church, enabled that lie by leaving a broken people with no hope but to see past the Church!
We must repent of this error as a collective body, and recommit ourselves to treating even the least of our brethren with the care and concern that God shows our own sin-sick selves every day.
“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
Let us remind ourselves that we are all in need of the Great Physician, lest He find it necessary to remind us Himself!