Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What I believe

Barely awake this morning I began counting the pains in my body. Calculating what it would take to get me out of bed, onto my good leg and moving without a walking stick. Then I stuck my head under a pillow and moaned. The equation was more than I could bear, I thought. There was just too much.

And then I heard it. The inimitable whisper that isn't a whisper at all. Sometimes it's a roar, sometimes it thuds through my spirit with such demand that I'm frozen in place. "What about the pain in MY Body?" He asked. "What about the ways MY Body is still broken and hurting and needs a walking stick to move in the right direction?"

And then I realized that this is the day. This is it. A day I've been thinking about, meditating on, contemplating, pondering for years. But because I haven't spoken (or written) it, I've had less and less to say.  But today is the day.

Here is my testimony. Not my 'how I came to Christ' testimony, but 'what I believe about the gospel' testimony. We are the greatest gift God has given this world. After Jesus Himself--indeed, because of Jesus Himself--we are it. The Incarnation of God on this earth. That's us, folks. Each of us who believes in the Lord Jesus is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. And it's the most awesome, beautiful, glorious thing imaginable that this should be so. Puny me? The one who still sins and blows it and doesn't keep her temper and is self-involved and self-righteous and all those things is also the one who, by the grace of God, the love of the crucified, resurrected Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, can participate in His LOVE for the world.

That I believe this puts me in line with evangelical Christians. Of course.

But what doesn't is that I am NOT a conservative. I want to come out of the closet and announce that I'm a liberal, left-wing evangelical Christian.  Indeed, I wonder at times how it came to be that conservative, republican and Christian all came to be synonymous. But that's not for me to say. What is for me to say is what I believe.  I believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ pushes us to love, to love, to love. Shall I say it again? And I don't know who is exempt from that love. As a Christian, my first, last and only responsibility to is show a person Christ when those around him or her would be judging and pointing fingers. Levi who became Matthew, Zaccheus, the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman, parable after parable teach us this. It's impossible to read the gospel and NOT see this. "This is my command: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13: 34-35) "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 14: 13)
"Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love." (1 John 4: 7-8)

So to the nuts and bolts of it: I'm pro-life. In every sense. From one end of life to the other. From birth to death. So I'm a pro-life, pacifist, anti-death-penalty believer. I don't believe in "An eye for an eye." Jesus told us NOT to, you see. He said, "No pay-backs!" I believe that the Incarnation calls believers to stand against war. I absolutely believe this. I could have (had had) discussions with those who believe wholly in just wars, and I can accept that we disagree just as believers disagree about many things theologically. One can make a case for either side (and I have a wonderful lecture on CD by two of my profs at Regent College who laid out this debate very clearly). But in the end, love must win. That is to say, I must respect those who have different points of view, those who are in authority, those who serve. AND, those who are the victims. Yes, even those. "Love your enemies," Jesus said. He said this.

I believe that homosexuality is something a person is born with. Perhaps there are other reasons as well, but this is the primary 'cause.' I've known many people who are gay and lesbian. In some cases, I've known them most of their lives, could see the writing on the wall well before they were ready to admit it. Watched the pain that such an admission caused, watched their lives be destroyed as they tried to ignore, pretend; yes, even pray it away. I've asked over and over, "Who would willingly choose this?" I've had conversations with people who expected me to judge and be harsh and turn on our friendship because, let's face it, I'm an evangelical Christian and we aren't a very tolerant bunch. And I hate--yes, HATE--that the very ones who should be most loving, most available to carry burdens when there are burdens to be carried, usually aren't because we're either left out because it's assumed we'll judge or we really ARE judging. I hate that. I don't want to have an opinion about what should and shouldn't be a law because I want to be so busy loving those around me, so busy in relationship that I let God do His work. And I do the work HE's called me to. Maybe you'll find this ostrich-like, but it's how I feel. I was put here to be a Christ-one. That's it. That's it. To love the world to Him.

And I believe God's heart breaks for all the hurting Christians sitting in the pews of our churches who are afraid to say what's really going on in our lives for fear of judgment. Too much drinking, or a bad marriage, kids out of control, or pornography addictions. And we hide it under saying all the right things, speaking Christian-speak, and don't get down and dirty with each other. We assume every one else is doing better than we are, or that we'll be judged. Found unworthy. Or we're so busy pointing fingers at all that's wrong with everyone around--the homosexuals, the people in Washington, our obnoxious neighbor, the person in the blasted car in front of us--that we don't let God in. IN to our own dirty selves where HE can love us. Where He already DOES love us.

I guess that's about enough of an unfolding of myself for the day.
If this makes you done with me, so be it.
I love you, anyway.

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