Monday, December 30, 2013

HOMESICK FOR IT

Frederick Buechner wrote:
“If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when, at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.” [i]





[i] Frederick Buechner

Friday, December 27, 2013

THE VIOLENT ALTERNATIVE

In his book 'The Jesus Tribe', author Ronnie McBrayer wrote timely words for our own season of Advent.

“Violence promises us something we all deeply desire, something we genuinely want; violence promises us peace. Violence promises us, that in the end, when the last battle is fought, the last bomb is dropped, and the last enemy is slain, we will have what we always dreamed of – safety, a world without suffering, death or bloodshed; a world at rest. Yet, these are the very things Christ offers with the Kingdom of God. A world where the lamb will lay down with the lion, where swords are beaten into plowshares, where mercy and justice flow down like the waters, where every tear will be wiped away from our eyes, and where there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. Christ and violence seem to offer the same final result, the two being competitors for our allegiance.” [i]





[i] Ronnie McBrayer, The Jesus Tribe: Following Christ In The Land Of The Empire

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

THE GOSPEL OF IDENTITY


If the truth about heterosexuals is told, not everyone fully embraces the tenderhearted monogamy model.



Matthew 5:
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.


Herein lies the common ground challenge to being sexually faithful. Adultery is essentially a problem of broken and distracted spirits. Go back to the Oneness of God. He speaks to Israel and calls their worship of other gods, adultery. Idolatry is adultery.

If someone cheats on you physically, emotionally or with pornography the relationship is polluted. It cannot remain sacred and trustworthy. The relationship is no longer special.

Everyone faces the demanding perfection of God’s Law and squirms. The Law reminds everyone that we are all infidels. Infidelity comes quite easily and any hope of change is found in Jesus. If we are to be new creations in God’s eyes, it will not come through our ability to stay pure. It will come because Jesus connects us to the Oneness of God and grants a new kind of identity.

Paul wrote to the Galatian church about this dilemma.

Galatians 3:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

What if we were to see that our new identity is not male or female, single or married, gay or straight? What if the new creation reality frees us from the distinctions that we are judged by? What if we really are one in Christ Jesus? If so, we belong to God’s Kingdom.

Not everyone can accept this. Sometimes our sexual identity and behaviour is greater than our identity in Christ. Am I being judgmental and unfair to the world? No, I am pointing to an alternative identity offered to everyone.

There is a new identity that frees us from distinctions that we are judged by.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

GOOD NEWS FOR LGBTTQQ2SA

Eunuchs were men who had been castrated as slaves, so they would not interfere with the master’s harem. For the sake of understanding Jesus' heart, let me compare them to those who have been damaged sexually by abuse and those who do not want heterosexual union. Jesus describes how the excluded are part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus starts by acknowledging that male/female marriage is not acceptable to everyone.


Matthew 19:
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

The question of discipleship is whether we accept that sexual fidelity is for everyone. Is there a purity and singleness toward God that anyone can surrender to? Can we remove the sexual politics and follow the Leader?

Jesus says some are born outside the hetero-camp. He doesn’t say to ‘fix them’; just that marriage is not acceptable to them. Some are abused by others and find themselves unable to marry. Others choose celibacy as a response to God. Then he says that not everyone can accept this.

My question for non-heterosexually oriented people is can you accept the celibate life as a follower of Jesus? Not everyone can, but what about you?

The same question for everyone is whether fidelity to God’s oneness is being expressed in your sexuality. Married people are not exempt from having fidelity toward God and others.

Everyone has sexual impulses. God created us with these biological drives. Naturally, everyone wants to pursue these drives with someone else and probably will. To follow Jesus is to surrender our bodies in dedication to God. God does however give a clear advantage to married people for the full expression of their sexual drives. You may think that this is not fair toward singles and those who do not want heterosexual union. As Jesus said, there are some who cannot accept this word. In fact, Jesus himself chose the single life over marriage. He would have been considered odd for not having a wife.

So, what if we do accept Jesus’ word about celibacy and his inclusiveness of eunuchs? Who are the ‘sexually different’ and how do we model the love of Jesus in relationship to them? We are such ‘knee jerks’ when we fear those who differ and try to explain what we do not understand. We are to love our neighbor as our self. If they do not accept this call to Jesus, our love should not change.

Some will say there is no good news for gays. Invite them to Jesus who will tell them to be celibate. If it’s not good news for gays, then it’s not good news for heterosexuals either. The call to follow Jesus involves the pursuit of fidelity. By the way, it’s a messy pursuit and most people struggle along the way. All fall short and need the help of God to get back on track. Jesus reminds us that the secret thoughts prove that we fail at keeping the Law. The good news is that Jesus frees us from the Law and the Holy Spirit teaches us to love God’s Law in our innermost being. Can you accept the call to love God in your celibacy? Some cannot accept this.




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

GOOD NEWS FOR HETEROSEXUALS

I believe there is good news, but we won’t get to it by picking political sides or reactionary arguments. If Jesus has good news for the entire world, it will include everyone in the spectrum of sexual preferences and behaviors. The good news is for singles, marrieds, divorced, abusers and the abused, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited, Allies, cheaters and virgins.

I do not expect everyone to agree with my understanding of the Scriptures, but let me make my case. I believe that there is common ground for everyone when it comes to sexuality and the gospel. The primary question is not ‘what does God have to say about this or that behavior and orientation, but rather what does it mean to follow Jesus?’

Is there a common path of discipleship or does it have different rules for different people? If we are to see the common path, it will be found in the Scriptures. Let’s start with the notion that God created sexuality and part of His image is reflected there. Before we address LGBTTQQ2SA orientations, let’s look at the majority of the world who identify as heterosexual. I believe there is common ground across the spectrum, but first let’s start with the most frequent sexual understanding.


Matthew 19:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”


God created male and female with a desire for sexual union. The power of sexual intercourse includes God’s plan to bond them as husband and wife.

When the Pharisees and disciples heard Jesus say this, they wanted to know about divorce and remarriage. They understood that the ideal and reality were not always matching up.

If male/female marriage is God’s plan why do marriages fall apart and people hook up with another? Why do people cheat on their spouses? Is it okay to be joined together and then separated and joined to another?

The image of God in sexuality is expressed in faithfulness. God is one God and monogamy illustrates the sacred union found in the Godhead. Marriage is all about oneness. Jesus responds to the questions about divorce and remarriage by addressing the hardness of heart that causes people to fail at the promises of monogamy and fidelity.

Who accepts the heterosexual model of monogamous marriage? Heterosexuals who are married or want to be are most likely to accept this word. But what if you are not there?



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