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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’

I was watching a Christian TV program recently that featured an interview with Brian Doerksen. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he’s an acclaimed Christian songwriter and worship leader, and a beautifully humble man. During the interview he talked about two of his children, both of whom are profoundly disabled due to a genetic condition called “fragile X syndrome”. Rather than describing his family situation as a burden, Brian said that these kids know how to give and receive love in a way that “normal” people don’t – and this makes them a huge blessing. He said, “sometimes God’s grace comes in disguise”.

Wow. That is such a great attitude to have in the face of some of the things life throws at us. Actually, if we understand God’s grace, even in a limited way, we realize that we aren’t just saved by grace. We live and breath and have our being in and by grace, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.

It’s easy to see God’s grace when something happens that we like. “Wow! God is so awesome! I needed extra money this month to make ends meet, and someone at church just blessed me with a cheque for (fill in the blank)!” But grace doesn’t mean getting our own way all the time, or getting everything we want. Why? Because God sees things we can’t see, and His main priority isn’t our comfort and happiness.

Think about the story of King David’s sin with Bathsheba. He was the most powerful man in Israel. He started out as a humble shepherd boy, but apparently power went to his head. He saw Bathsheba, had her summoned, and slept with her. Then he tried to cover up his sin by arranging for her husband, Uriah, to be killed in battle. In a rather understated fashion, the Bible reads, “the thing David had done displeased the LORD”.

If you’re familiar with the story, you know that Nathan the prophet confronts David. I love what the Bible says: “The LORD sent Nathan to David”. (2 Samuel 12:1) I’m sure David would’ve preferred if his cover-up plan had worked, but God sent Nathan to David because He loved him – and because David’s sin put the whole nation at risk. Sometimes God’s grace comes in disguise.

I’m experiencing God’s grace in disguise in my own life right now. I’m returning to work shortly, and I can’t say I’m jumping up and down for joy at the idea. I’ve been off for almost 10 months. I like my job, but I like what I’ve been doing in the last ten months better – exploring my creative side, stepping into ministry through the natural and spiritual gifts God has so graciously blessed me with. (there’s that word!) So I find myself worrying, wondering – what are you doing, God?

I hear Brian Doerksen’s words: “Sometimes God’s grace comes in disguise”. God’s plans and dreams and hopes for us exceed anything we can conjure up ourselves. Put another way, He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20) According to His power, by His grace, for His glory.

God opens doors that no one can shut, and closes doors that no one can open. In the interim, I know that His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness. What is weakness? The realization that without Him, we can do nothing. When I am weak, then I am strong. It’s really liberating to let myself be weak in His arms. Makes me think of something Jesus said – “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Is there anything unwelcome or perplexing happening in your life right now? Has somebody confronted you with something you don’t want to hear? Don’t be too quick to dismiss every obstacle as “an attack of the enemy”. It could be God’s grace in disguise.

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My post today is part of a larger initiative of more than 70 bloggers all sharing their thoughts on how to ‘bridge the gap’ between Christians and gay people. You can check out the other links at www.btgproject.blogspot.com

tay_rail_bridge_470x353A good friend of mine visited me yesterday. She was in town for a few days, and it was great to have the chance to just hang out together. She’s one of those seriously fun people who loves to laugh. We share the same dry, off-the-wall sense of humour. Needless to say, we did quite a bit of laughing! I’m still smiling at the thought of it.

My friend committed her life to Christ as an adult, much like I did. Though our backgrounds are different in many ways, we do have one important thing in common: We both came to know Jesus through our desperation, tired of hungering for love and being hurt and disappointed again and again. I suppose you could say we were looking for love in all the wrong places. She looked for love in the arms of men. I looked for it in the arms of women. We both found it in the arms of Jesus.

There’s no denying that bridging the gap between Christians and gay people is challenging. On the one hand, there are Christians who are so threatened by the idea of reaching out to gays that they won’t even consider it. On the other, some gay people make it their mission in life to be as “in your face” as possible about their sexuality, particularly around people who consider homosexuality sinful. I think both of these postures are born out of fear, hurt and misunderstanding. It’s heartening to know that there are people in between the two extremes.

One of the songs my friend and I sang together yesterday was “Love can build a bridge”. It was recorded back in the 1980’s by the Judds, a mother/daughter country duo. Some of you may get to this point in my post and think, “is this the best response you can come up with to the question at hand?” Well, yes and no. Here are the words to the chorus of “Love can build a bridge”, in case you’re not a country music fan:

Love can build a bridge,
between your heart and mine.
Love can build a bridge,
don’t you think it’s time,
don’t you think it’s time.

It is the best answer I can come up with, in the sense that it’s the only answer to our lost condition, whether we identify ourselves as gay, straight, or somewhere in between. It’s the same answer given in the beautiful simplicity of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” If you’re a Christian and you don’t include gay people in the “whosoever” category, then I would gently suggest that you are underestimating God’s grace. If you’re gay and you’ve written off Christianity because you’ve been hurt by people in the church, I hope you won’t write Jesus off. God doesn’t affirm any of us on the basis of our behaviour, because we’re all sinners. He affirms us based on the “whosoever will believe in Him” part of John 3:16. In the same way, none of us can measure up to God’s standard of holiness. We all fall short in many ways. The grace that saves us is the same grace that enables us to grow in purity and obedience once we have accepted His gift of salvation.

You’ll notice that I haven’t addressed the issue of whether or not homosexual behaviour is sinful, and that’s deliberate. It’s not because I don’t have an opinion. I haven’t addressed it because I think if we truly want to bridge the gap between Christians and gay people, or indeed with anyone who doesn’t share our beliefs, we need to keep the horse before the cart.

If you’re a Christian trying to reach out to a gay person, and the first thing you say after “God loves you”, is “homosexuality is an abomination in His eyes”, then your cart has already toppled into the ditch. I believe when we take this approach, making sure our theological position is stated at the outset, we aren’t really motivated by love – we’re motivated by fear. The reality is, most gay people already know what the Bible says about homosexuality. If you feel compelled to tell them, consider how lovingly Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery in John 8. And remember that it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance – all of us.

When I left my gay identity behind, it wasn’t because well-meaning Christians persuaded me to. It happened because the Holy Spirit wooed me, gently changing how I saw myself and others. I found the love I had been longing for in Jesus. In the process, I discovered (and am discovering) my true self. I’m very glad to say that His love has been expressed to me over the years through Christians. They offered the same grace and patience we all need, and trusted God to change me. Their love bridged the gap in my life.

So, when you think about it, God has already built a bridge. Don’t you think it’s time for us to walk across it by loving all people the way Jesus does?

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I was invited over for lunch today with an old friend and her new girlfriend – well, new to me – they’ve been seeing each other for close to two years. We had a great time together – a delicious meal, lots of good discussion and laughs. It has me thinking tonight about the “christian community” and how they would respond to such a thing. I know I’m generalizing, but I’d wager (if I were a betting woman) that many christians would “tut tut” my friendship. I think that’s a real shame. I have no doubt that Jesus was right there with me, enjoying the companionship of these two beautiful, intelligent women. Why? Is it because he has shifted his moral compass? No. But Jesus, God incarnate, loves us because that’s who he is – not because any of us deserve it. If Jesus’ love was conditional on our behaviour, he would have to shift his moral compass every time. None of us deserve God’s love. We’re all in the same boat in that regard.

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