The Most Dangerous Kind Of Racism

All racism is dangerous. But there is one particular strain that is even more deadly than the rest. It does more damage than the Klansman in a white hooded sheet could ever dream of. It’s deadlier than the rich, young college student fighting over a statue.

The most dangerous kind of racist is the one who has convinced himself that he is not a racist. After all, he doesn’t like the Klan. He’s never showed up to a white supremacist rally. She loves that black running back on her favorite football team. She even likes a few Outkast songs.

But deep down in her heart, there is hatred. And it feels perfectly normal. As a result, her kids grow up never really being taught what it means to love their neighbor. In word and in deed, they are taught to look the other way when an entire race of people suffers. Even worse, they’re taught to blame that entire race of people for the suffering they endure. So the racist jokes told in the church parking lot aren’t really all that bad. It’s just humor. And the segregation of the last century is most certainly condemned but it’s replaced with a much more acceptable variety of segregation.

And it all feels perfectly normal.

I’m 42 years old. To put it another way, I’ve been sinning for over four decades. Sure, I’ve been a Christian for most of those years but that doesn’t change the fact that I desperately need the gospel. Without it, my heart is bent toward selfishness, pride, envy, lust, murder, and yes, even racism.

Not one person on the earth can truly say, “God, I thank you that I am not like that racist over there” (Luke 18:11).

Rather, we must prayerfully and honestly address our sin and repent. The answer is not found in self-righteousness or life-long, low-grade guilt.

Only when we pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” will we truly know what it’s like to be reconciled to God and one another (Luke 18:13-14).

In the book of Acts, we are given two examples to help us as we try to live this out in our day to day lives. The first example shows us the importance of repentance and the second the importance of discernment or critical thinking.

The early church was growing by the thousands. And they did it without giving out free iPads to the first 100 people to show up or by mailing out risqué flyers about how the next sermon series is going to be on sex. Imagine that! Their growth was the result of God’s work but everything wasn’t perfect.

Church leaders had to care for hundreds of widows without any assistance from a government welfare program, the Internet or even phones. They failed. But they didn’t just fail. They failed in a way that looked like racism.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. Acts 6:1 (ESV)

Here’s a translation of the complaint that was made by the Hellenists or Greek-speaking Jews.

“Hey, Peter and John. I know it’s hard to feed everyone but why is it that our people are always the ones getting left out?”

The response of Peter and John and the rest of the church leaders is one that we would do well to follow today.

“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, who we will appoint to this duty.” Acts 6:2 (ESV)

Notice what they did not say. They didn’t say, “Oh, you don’t understand, we have plenty of friends who are Hellenists.” And they didn’t tell the Hellenist widows to, “Pull themselves up by the bootstraps.”

Instead, they changed their system. For them, loving others was more important than saving face or doing it the way they’ve always done it. I pray that the same could be said of today’s church. May we be a people who are quicker to repent than we are to defend an old human system that hurts others.

This requires critical thinking. It means that the thoughtful Christian will not jump on every bandwagon just so he can be, “on the right side of history.” We need more discernment and less Group Think. We need to follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17.

Paul had just been kicked out of Thessalonica for preaching the gospel and he found himself in Berea. The biblical description of these people is noteworthy.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 (ESV)

God used Paul to write a majority of what would later come to be known as the New Testament. But when he preached to the Bereans, they still wanted to measure everything he said against the Scriptures.

Such wisdom and discernment isn’t only unusual these days, it’s not allowed.

Some on the right would have us to believe that daring to question a Republican president when he is wrong means that you are a “snowflake” who hates America.

And some progressives would have us to believe that if we question Colin Kaepernick’s affinity for Fidel Castro, we are somehow blind to the injustices of the world.

Both assessments are wrong and are the result of misplaced worship and a lack of critical thinking. Many Christian leaders have soiled their garments because they worship the idea of having a seat at President Trump’s table. They have forgotten that it’s more important to have a seat at the table of their neighbor who has a different skin tone than they do. Many Progressives care more about Colin Kaepernick’s next job after he walked away from millions from his former employer than they do their neighbor’s next job after he was laid off with nothing more than best wishes.

Navigating our way through these complexities requires less group think and more of the wisdom of Christ. It requires more repentance and less self-righteousness.

Before I see that they are the problem, I must see how I am the problem.

Before I condemn their hatred, I must carefully examine my heart for my hatred.

Otherwise, I’m much more dangerous than I think I am.

image credit

Antifa, The Alt-Right, And The Gates Of Hell

Remember the good old days when a military conflict or a natural disaster seemed to bring us all together, even if it was only for a few days? One would think that if anything was going to make us all join hands and buy the world a Coke it would be white supremacists radicalizing a car and using it to plow over their fellow Americans. Or maybe a crazed leftist trying to assassinate an elected official would make us take a second look and put aside our differences. Neither one did. Instead, they only highlighted the giant wall separating this country.

We are more divided than ever.

And, for some reason, many in the church feel the need to pick a side.

 

 

There should be no, “Yeah, but what about that time when they…” after attempted murder at a softball game. There should be no, “Well, the other side…” after what we just saw in Charlottesville.

But that’s what we’ve got. And many of those excuses are coming from the church. After last weekend’s violent riots in Virginia there are still those who want to remind us of something that was done by someone on the left rather than simply weeping with those who weep and doing the necessary self-evaluations to see how we got to this point. It’s easier to look down your nose than it is to look in the mirror. Even for good church folks.

We would do well to heed the advice of Gamaliel.

I don’t usually hold Gamaliel up as a model for us to follow. He was a religious leader who, two thousand years ago, helped oppose the early church. But in his opposition, the esteemed religious leader showed us the difference between a movement of man and the body of Christ.

Peter and the apostles were agitating. Their gospel proclamation and good works were stirring up the establishment. So they were detained and told to stop. Key leaders wanted them dead. That’s when Gamaliel spoke up.

He reminded the other leaders of a man named Theudas. Theudas was the leader of an uprising. But Theudas was overthrown and his movement came to nothing.

After him came Judas the Galilean. He too tried to start a revolution but lost his life in the process. His movement came to nothing.

And then Gamaliel dropped this nugget of wisdom about what to do with Peter and his friends.

“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” Acts 5:39 (ESV)

Antifa is of man. It will fail and come to nothing.

The alt-right is of man. It will fail and come to nothing.

The Democratic and Republican parties are both of man and they will both fail and come to nothing.

So why, as these movements are in the process of driving off into the ditch, must Christians pick which side they want to crash on? Why must we explain one side as not being as bad as the other? Why must we place our identity in them?

The church is supposed to be different. It will last forever. This is liberating for Christians. It means that we have the freedom to say to Antifa and the white supremacists, Democrats and Republicans, “A plague on both your houses.” It frees us to call evil what it is without fear of upsetting the base, whatever that means. And it helps us to preach and live the gospel, no matter how unpopular it may be.

It’s time for our local churches to do some self-evaluation. Are we content with being the body of Christ or would we rather be a movement of man? If we choose to be the body of Christ, we may not be liked but we’ll be known for our love. If we settle for being a movement, we’ll just be known as the people who still haven’t gotten over the Broncos cutting Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick not standing up during the national anthem. And we will come to nothing.

While the world is busy trying to fight one brand of hate with another one, the church must remember that it was Christ who died for us, not a Civil War general or a flag. It means that we’d rather live in harmony with our neighbor than win a debate against him by using crime statistics we found somewhere on the Internet. It means that we love like Christ rather than arguing like a talk radio host.

Antifa’s days are numbered.

The alt-right’s days are numbered.

And the same is true for churches that settle for being movements of man rather than the body of Christ.

But not so for the true church. A few years before Peter was called to stand before Gamaliel, he stood before a much greater leader named Jesus. And Jesus told Peter an even greater word about the church that we need to hear today as we consider transferring our membership to a political party or racial identity.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (ESV)

The gates have opened and Hell has poured out into our streets.

But it is no match for the body of Christ.

image credit

A Call For Cooler Heads And Broken Hearts

I just read a paragraph from a respected political commentator that startled me.

I might as well plant my flag in the ground on this point. I will actually be really surprised if we make it to December 31st of this year without people in this country taking up arms against each other. The rhetoric is so overblown, so heated, and so believed by a bunch of people who should know better.

It startled me because he may well be right. Listening to the way people talk these days and watching how they respond to tragedy leaves me no reason to believe that this was mere sensationalism. That’s the startling part.

Here’s the sad part.

The church is supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be salt and light. We find our identity in Christ, not a statue, a flag, a color, or a president. Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten all of that.

We don’t care about the truth anymore. We just care about what we want to be true. On social media, some of the biggest spreaders of fake news are Christians. You know, the ones who belong to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And it’s all in an effort to stick it to the biased media.

Here’s the thing. Everyone is biased. MSNBC is biased. Sean Hannity and Fox News are biased. The guy sitting in his mother’s basement in Bulgaria making up those fake news stories that so many Christians share is biased. I am biased. You are biased. That’s why we need discernment. Without it, we just stick to hearing what we want to hear and reinforcing stereotypes. With it, we can actually look and act different in an angry world.

It appears that many in the church have settled for life without discernment.

This anger is on both sides of the political aisle. And on both sides of the political aisle, the hypocrisy runs deep too. Conservatives use words like snowflakes when describing the students who walked out on Mike Pence, forgetting that just days before the election there were several conservative, middle-aged snowflakes who promised to march on the streets with guns if Donald Trump was not elected.

Liberals all of a sudden care about journalistic integrity now that an easy target is in the White House. With the exception of Jake Tapper, no one at CNN seemed too concerned when President Obama threatened the media and targeted citizens with the IRS.

Liberals love to talk about resisting the power while at the same time gladly taking handouts from that very same power and laying down and rolling over when it’s their guy in power. Conservatives ramble on and on about respecting the office of the presidency now that a self-identifying conservative is in power. However, I lost count of how many memes I saw over the past eight years comparing the Obama’s to Fred Sanford and Aunt Esther.

Blindly identifying with a political party makes good men into hypocrites. Identifying with Christ actually makes a difference.

In our own country, armed guards are patrolling city streets while people remove statues. It matters not to me what you feel about Lincoln, General Lee or the Civil War. Here’s what really matters. What is your neighbor thinking? As a follower of Christ, I am called to love my neighbor before I’m called to love a flag, whether it be confederate or American, or a statue, whether it be Jefferson, Lee or Lincoln.

One day we will stand before God to give an account for our lives. In spite of what you may have read in some whitewashed, Americanized study Bible, you will not be asked your opinion of a statue or a flag. But your love for neighbor will come into play.

When the black kid across town got shot and killed, did you write him off as just another thug or did you seek to minister to a family and a community that you were already engaging long before tragedy struck?

When the gay activists mocked the God of the Bible, did you hate her as if she were your enemy or did you hate what the real enemy was doing to her and pray for her eyes to be opened?

Did you go on long rants online about justice in regards to the president and the FBI but ignore lesser reported miscarriages of justice in your own community and workplace?

Did you bend down to help the least of these or did you step up on them to promote your own brand?

Were you longing for the Kingdom of God or were the kingdoms of this world enough for you?

Did you care more about the speck in your neighbor’s eye than you did the plywood in your own eye?

That’s what Jesus really cares about.

It’s just a shame that the church doesn’t seem to share in his concern.

I’ve spent most of my life in the church. I’ve heard a lot of preacher types talk about what needs to be done to save this country. It started with rock music.

“We need to get rid of this rock and roll music if we want to save this country.”

Eventually they moved on to politics.

“We need to elect this one and get this one out if we want to save our country.”

All the while the real problem was neglected.

I don’t know anything about fixing our country again. That’s too complex for me. But I can tell you how we can fix the church. And believe me, that’s a big need.

The church needs to repent.

We need to repent for abandoning truth for what feels or sounds right.

We need to repent for rejoicing over those who weep and making distinctions among ourselves by being judges with evil thoughts (Romans 12:15; James 2:4).

We need to repent for placing our identity in a president, whatever party he or she may belong to, instead of a King.

Everyone is angry. Even the church. And for all the wrong reasons.

We must be different.

We must be the ones with cooler heads.

We must be the ones with repentant hearts.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17 (ESV)

image credit

The Least Segregated Place In America

20984143434_7b1d89fcd6_o

It’s been said that the Sunday morning service is the most racially segregated hour of the week. Last Sunday, I went to the least segregated hour.

I parked my car in one of the last spaces available and took a deep breath. I had been inside this building before but that still didn’t make it any easier. I always feel like I need to prepare myself before I go into this place.

Inside, I walked quietly through the hallway with my head down. I finally noticed the man that I came to see. He’s white and he was in the middle of a conversation with a black lady. When he saw me, he stopped talking and introduced me to the lady.

He told me that they were helping each other.

They couldn’t have been more different. Their genders, their race and their background where opposites. But that didn’t matter. One thing brought them together.

Death.

I was in a hospice. My friend’s father had just passed away. He was holding it together as good as you might expect. The lady I had just met was helping him. And he was helping her as she coped with the loss of her loved one. Although they were strangers, they were there for each other.

My friend walked me down the hallway to see his dad. Other family members were in there. They were grieving too. But not as those who have no hope. They knew that the man who had been sick for so many years was with Jesus now. Stories of the man’s life and legacy came out with ease.

The family told stories of fatherly discipline.

There were stories of hunting trips, school and playing in the band.

And there was one last story.

Just before death came to that room, one of the hospice nurses came in. She sang a hymn. She was black. The man she was singing over was white. The Savior who was about to receive the man created and loved them both.

We can go to churches and even school based on our racial preferences. Death doesn’t work that way. It comes to us all. And in a weird way, it brings us together.

In that hospice, there was no talk of confederate flags or white privilege or Louis Farrakhan or #blacklivesmatter. None of that mattered. There was only pain. Shared pain. And a hope that was shared too.

A while back I asked a man who has been alive for a few decades longer than me what he thought about the racial tension in our country today. How does it compare to the 1950s and 1960s?

“It doesn’t,” he told me. “It’s much worse today.”

A lot has been done in the name of stopping it. New words have been added to our culture’s non-written Do Not Use List. People are getting angry. The government is spending money. But none of it is helping.

Last Sunday, sitting in that hospice and surrounded by death, it hit me. Maybe we could all get along better if we started living like we do when we’re in the hospice. Maybe if we remembered that in life, just like in the hospice, no one gets out alive, we would stop letting our differences separate us.

For all of our differences, whites and blacks have one thing in common.

Death.

There is no amount of privilege, pride or resistance that will help us to escape it. For all of the pain that it brings us, death brings us something better. It brings us together. That’s how Jesus works. He is the Master of redeeming even the most painful of situations.

When I finally walked out of that hospice building last Sunday, I prayed a prayer. It’s the same prayer that I always pray when I leave those places.

“Lord, send Jesus back quickly.”

There’s nothing quite like a trip to the hospice to remind you of what we will not have once Jesus returns.

But there was more to this particular trip. This time, I got to see just a glimpse of what we will have after Jesus comes back.

The One who will one day forever remove death’s sting is the same one who will One day forever remove society’s segregation. In eternity, the worship services will not be segregated. All followers of Christ will offer up our praise to Jesus. Together.

And they sang a new song, saying,“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)

image credit

The Thing That Jesus Hates About Your Worship Service

It’s one of the oldest battles in the history of the church. Back in the old days, there were people who didn’t want any music in the church. Now, people just want their music in the church. If there’s one thing that church people just can’t seem to get together on it’s music.

Usually this battle plays itself out amongst two sides. The Trendies and they Traditionalists.

The Trendies don’t want to sing anything older than January of 2015. Some of their music is upbeat. Some is somber. But it’s all, well, quite trendy. Take the words out and you could easily imagine hearing one of the Trendies’ songs on a Top 40 station. Sometimes the songs that the Trendies sing at church come directly from a Top 40 station.

“This morning’s call to worship will be performed by Ariana Grande and Ryan Seacrest will be leading us in the opening prayer.”

On the other side, there are the Traditionalists. For many of them, any song newer than 1981was written in hell. They can’t understand the fascination with fancy screens when hymn books are so much easier, cheaper and, well, more traditional. The music at the traditionalist church also sounds like it could be played on a Top 40 station. If they had Top 40 radio stations in 1781.

Members from both sides have been battling each other for quite some time. Both claim to have the market cornered on the style of music that Jesus would prefer were he to ever show up at their church one Sunday morning. But both sides are guilty of forgetting something very important about their brand of worship.

There is a strong chance that Jesus, the one you’re allegedly singing to and about, hates it.

His hatred has nothing to do with the drums being too loud or the songs not being relevant enough. The cause of his hate can be found every Sunday morning. You can see it in old school cathedrals with huge pipe organs as well as in trendy gatherings with Grammy Award winning worship leaders.

Your favorite song or modern worship anthem may hold a special place in your heart. But if that special place in your heart is right next to the special place where you harbor resentment, bitterness and hate toward your neighbor, God doesn’t care to hear your worship.

Jesus hates your traditional hymns.

And your modern worship makes him sick.

Jesus has no interest in your worship songs if they’re being sung by people who are disobeying his command to love their neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40).

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV)

More than Amazing Grace or whatever your favorite hip new worship song is, there are times when Jesus would much rather hear us say to one another, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.” If we’re not prepared to sing that song, we should stop singing all together. To the best of our ability, we should make things right with those who we have wronged and with those who have sinned against us. And then we should come back and sing to the God who has forgiven us of our greater sins.

There is no amount of tradition or trendiness that can make up for the absence of God’s power in a church. No matter how good your music is, don’t count on seeing God work in a significant way if that music is being sung by a bunch of people who hate each other.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:23-24 (ESV)

A Not So Fictional Speech From The Not So Distant Future

photo-4

The following is a not so fictional speech from the not so distant future.

“My fellow Americans,

We are a nation built on principles. Principles like love, justice, fairness and tolerance. Our nation started when people left their home country to pursue a better life here. Since that time, millions of others have followed with the same dream. The American dream is one where people are free to love who they choose and to express that love as they choose. It is a dream where ideas and lifestyles are tolerated and people are treated with fairness. It is a dream where justice comes crashing down on those wishing to stand in the way of that dream. It gives me great pride to see the American dream slowly becoming the American reality for so many people.

But, as you all know, there are those who are opposed to this American way of life. They gather one, two, even three times a week in buildings where they rely on an overly literal interpretation of an antiquated text to preach hate against those of us wishing to find our place in the new American reality.

It’s more than sermons. It’s also the members of these hate cults refusing to sell their goods to gay, lesbian, transgender and polygamous Americans who wish to express their love in marriage. As we so often see with acts of terror, it didn’t stop there. Recently there have been numerous leaders, some call them pastors, of these hate cults that some call churches who have refused to officiate gay, lesbian, transgender and polygamous wedding ceremonies.

Ours is a culture established on love and tolerance. Of all sectors in our society, we would least expect religious organizations to stand in the way of this. Most do not. They practice their religion freely but they have the decency to step away from their traditions when those traditions stand in the way of progress and the greater good. This is the pure and undefiled religion that great men like Jesus would approve of.

Sadly, there are some hate cults who spread their hate in the name of Jesus. For years they have been doing this while also enjoying tax exemptions. Let me be clear. We are a nation of freedom. But we are not a nation that supports hate by granting financial breaks to those terror cells which promote it.

So it is with great joy that I have taken action to stop this. I have tried to act with a Congress that is too bogged down in partisan politics. There is no time for such silliness when loving, hard working Americans are suffering. Americans like Jean Williams, Gayle Lafayette and Shawn Timmons are told that the church in the town where they grew up is ‘not the place’ for them to express their love in marriage. This is why I have acted on my own in the form of an executive order that I hope will do away with the hate that we have ignored for far too long in this country.

There are three phases to my plan; financial, instructional and correctional. First, churches and religious organizations which refuse to marry gay, lesbian, transgender and polygamous citizens will no longer enjoy a tax exempt status. Second, the leaders of such churches will be instructed through a series of mandatory training intensives overseen by the Ministry of Religious Matters. Those refusing the guidance of the Ministry of Religious Matters will move into the correctional phase where they will face a swift and just punishment for their crimes of hate.

My detractors will make their voices heard. They will argue that this executive order will do great harm to free speech and the freedom of religion. But they will forget one thing. They will forget the great harm that some speech and religion has done to so many citizens in this country who simply want a better life with the ones they love. Make no mistake, this executive order is not an attack on freedom. It is an attack on hate. Hate does much more harm to the democracy that we enjoy than any executive order could ever hope to do.

This is a step in the right direction for America. It may be painful for some but in the end it will make us stronger, fairer and more unified. Our nation cannot afford not to be unified. We must stand as one. You must not believe the words of those who tell us that the sky is falling, along with our liberties. You must trust those of us who are fighting on your behalf. You must pursue love and tolerance.

No matter the cost.

Thank you and God bless America.”

Bad Rap: A Response to Macklemore’s Same Love

I tried to ignore this song. It’s just a pop song. And the thing about pop songs, no matter what it is that they’re saying, is that they usually don’t stick around long enough to make a lasting impression. When’s the last time that someone told you that their life was changed by a Neneh Cherry song?

But then Christians started to respond. And not with the “Get this garbage off of my radio” reaction that one might expect. Many were accepting the song. And many more who may not have ever even heard the song are okay with the message. Sometimes pop music can be more influential than we think.

The song is from a rapper named Macklemore and it’s called Same Love. The message is simple. Gay is normal. It should be accepted. Opposition is intolerant. Get with the times.

“The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision

And you can be cured with some treatment and religion

Man-made rewiring of a predisposition

Playing God, aw nah here we go

America the brave still fears what we don’t know

And God loves all his children is somehow forgotten

But we paraphrase a book written thirty five hundred years ago”

Don’t you just love it when people condemn making judgements on large segments of the population by making judgments on large segments of the population?

This song is a good example of what it looks like when we craft theology to meet our agendas and create a god in our own image. This man-made religion applies the status of Scripture to feel-good sayings (“God loves all his children”) while questioning the status of actual Scripture. Hey, why let the truth get in the way of a lifestyle when it’s so much easier to make up your own truth?

The Bible never classifies all people as God’s children. In our natural, sinful state, we are all God’s enemies. Not just the homosexuals. But the Southern Baptist pastors. And the politicians. As well as socially-conscious rappers. We are all God’s enemies apart from his grace. Yes, we’re children alright. Children of wrath, fighting against God (Ephesians 2:1-3).

“When I was at church they taught me something else

If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed”

Intolerant. Hateful. Homophobic. That’s how you are classified if you believe that homosexuality is a sin. D.A. Carson calls this the intolerance of tolerance. You don’t have to be in the Westboro cult to get that label. You can serve AIDS patients and develop friendly relationships with homosexuals but that one belief earns you the scarlet letter.

But it is myopic to classify the Bible’s message on homosexuality as hateful, intolerant or homophobic. God hates sin. And that’s where most people cover their eyes and ears and begin repeating the mantra.

Hateful. Homophobic. Intolerant.

Hateful. Homophobic. Intolerant.

So, with ears covered, the rest of the message isn’t received. Yes, God hates sin. But he loves you and sent Jesus to take the punishment for your sin. This is why Paul can speak the way that he does to the sexually progressive Corinthians.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

Were can be a beautiful word.

“Such were some of you.”

Sexually immoral. Idolaters. Homosexuals. Thieves.

Were.

It’s not like the sin of homosexuality is any worse than the others Paul listed. He wasn’t trying to cure gays, as if that alone could somehow make them right with God. The real issue here isn’t homosexuality. It’s pride. Pride convinces me to keep my identity in myself. My sexuality. My accomplishments. My heritage. But Jesus calls for men to lay down their identity and to find their true identity in him. The gospel frees us to abandon who we were while embracing who we are in Christ.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

Any person who stands before God under his own identity is doomed. Eventually, our own identity will weigh us down. Real rest is only found in Jesus.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

Macklemore says that If you’re gay, it’s your predisposition. So live on and be yourself.

Jesus pleads with us to do just the opposite. And his plea is loving.

It’s just not the same love as anything else the world has ever known.