NWYC #3: Challenged.

(Author's Note: I am currently sitting in the back of the big room, listening to Shane and Shane. I will not be writing any more blog entries ever unless I am listening to a live Shane and Shane concert. Ok, that's a lie. But every other blog post is going to be insignificant...)

Six Years Ago:
Let's face it, First Presby ain't a big church. We don't have big church kind of money! So for this trip, EJ, Ro, and I are staying with EJ's brother. Under most normal circumstances, this would be normal, but it actually raises a ton of questions for me, because we will be staying with EJ's brother and his boyfriend. Let that one sink in for a minute. I had said for years that I was supportive of homosexuals, and that I felt like I should and could love them just the way they were. After all, the worst anyone can say about homosexuality is that it's a sin (*see footnote), and Jesus does a spectacular job of loving me in spite of my sins. More than that, he calls us to love the way he loves. So I'm peachy keen.
Well, ok. It's a little awkward. I love them deeply, but there's is a lifestyle I'm just not comfortable with. I don't disaprove of them, it's just that this is my first real exposure to the situation in any way shape or form. (*see footnote two) That night, after hearing Rob Bell, we hear a message from Jay Baker. His father was a famous minister in the 80s, super popular guy with a super popular tv show. That is until of course he slept around with his church secretary, and lost everything including his dignity. Jay speaks to us about tolerance, and whether tolerance alone (if we're even willing to get that far) is enough to satisfy Jesus. I wonder if I know enough about Jesus to love every body the way I should. And suddenly, I feel convicted...

After posting the last blog post, I attend a class on making space for artists in your ministry. This was SUPPOSED to be a pat on the back type seminar, because we have quite a few artists who make their home at Veritas, and so obviously we must be making enough space for them. WRONG! Dan Kimball's point was all about how we as human beings tend to craft our youth ministries around the type of learning we excel at most. So, in my case, as someone who learns the best by listening, I tend to do most of my teaching by talking and hoping to the dear sweet Lord that people are listening. But what about those who learn best by seeing things? What about those who do best by doing things with their hands? What if all that doodling in the back in the bulletin is in fact the way a person learns best? In fact, scientists believe that by sixth grade, we have completely settled into our learning type. And further in fact, if there are 10 of us in the room, chances are there are 2 auditory learners, 4 visual learners, and 4 kinetic learners (those who do things with their hands). If you are a pastor, and you preach (literally: proclaim) using only words, and you feel like you're only reaching about 20% of the people, there's a reason! So instead of going to dinner feeling like I was headed completely in the right direction, I walked to Johnny Rocket's with a lot on my mind...

What challenges us? Why does something that we've never experienced before sometimes leave us completely locked up in fear? I mean, you have never seen Jesus, you have never touched his wounds. And yet, you know him. Yet you love him. You've been given an inexpressible joy. But we still possess doubt, uncertainty, and fear, and it might just be that we haven't fully experienced it yet.
So I'm wondering if I'm truly a tolerant person if I've never placed myself in a situation where I had something to be tolerant of? I would tell you a thousand times before I left on this trip that I was ok loving gays and hating their sin. But now I find myself awkward, uncomfortable, and lock jawed around these two men who have graciously opened up their apartment to us. And a thought keeps coming into my head: these two are not Christians...what if they see my insecurities? What if they get their opinion of Christianity by seeing my fear? What if they assume that we're all just pansies? Would these men ever come to know the love and grace of Christ if I could not show them how wonderful and beautiful it was? When people see me, do they see Christ?

Last year, I heard Francis Chan speak for the first time. I loved it! He was so honest, so brutally honest with us, and we needed to be challenged the way he challenged us. I walked out of the talk thinking "boy, he just kicked my ass!" I think it was meant to be like, boy I like that spicy food, but it's totally rocking me.

tonight, we were convicted beyond understanding.

I didn't take notes, because I wanted to be fully present in what God was teaching me through Francis. So I don't have direct quotes. I don't have specific ideas. I don't have a lot of thoughts to offer this. I just have one sentence ringing in my ears:

"There are a lot of lies in this room..."

I am so good at pretending I know Jesus. I am so good at pretending I can show you the best way to get there. I am so good at giving a talk that makes me look super spiritual. But if it was all true, then when you saw me, you would see Jesus. If you spent an hour with me, your life would be changed because I could love and give grace the way he loves and gives grace. I would show you who he was because he was so very alive in me.

The truth is, that doesn't often happen. Thank God for the grace of Jesus, to cover for my inequity. But it's still inequity, and it needs to be dealt with! And so I walk away with questions, and a lot to chew on. Hopefully, I'll have some more insight to post tomorrow. But tonight, I want you to be challenged the way I was challenged tonight.

What's the biggest lie you're living right now? And have you thought about it lately?

(*footnote one: the absolute worst thing you could say about homosexuality is that it's a sin. And in fact, even beyond that, the only thing scripture ever references is homosexual behavior. Being gay in and of itself is never listed as a sin in the scriptures, and I would challenge anyone to say otherwise. That said, I also happen to know (through people much smarter than I) that some of the scriptures we assume are rock solid condemnations of homosexuality are in fact a bit ambiguous if we study them openly and honestly. All of this is to say, could we all (the universal body of Christ) agree that it's time to stop keeping the homosexual community at arms length and embrace them for who they are: messed up sinners in need of redemption just like each and every one of us!)

(*footnote two: another thought occurs to me: a lot of the people who speak out against homosexuality do so from the stance that they will not allow gays into their church. if that's the case, how is it possible that they speak with any kind of authority on things like the homosexual lifestyle or agenda? how can you speak against something you have absolutely no experience with? I don't mean to offend or to displease any body (though of course as always I welcome lively debate in the comments section here), but I do want us to spend a little bit more time exposing ourselves to a world view that we're not used to. This is an encouragement to most, and an absolute must for anyone who intends to judge and discriminate against any person or people groups, gay or otherwise. This, of course ends my rant.)

Time to head back to the hotel room! Lots to think about!




Curt said...


Brian said...

Interesting post. I'm glad that you are honest enough to acknowledge that much of your discomfort with homosexuality and gay persons is YOUR issue...not theirs. More folks in the Church need to come to that awareness and then start dealing with their own issues around sexuality rather than starting out by trying to change gay people. I would caution you against the use of the pejorative "gay lifestyle." That phrase is code for folks who like to think that all gay people are promiscuous and engage in all manner of unhealthy behaviors. In fact, most gay people live life like everyone else -- they pay taxes, they go grocery shopping, they work all day, they come home to their pets and families, they mow their lawns...they even go to Church! : )

Jason Freyer said...

I agree in huge ways! I actually meant more of Will and Will (my friend's brother's) lifestyle, not the whole gay community. Will and Will were super PDA people, as well as really tuned into a part of the culture of Atlanta that just didn't jive with my upbringing. I agree that the gay community is CHUCK full of diversity, and attempting to label them will be like attempting to label anything these days: failure. I need to become a better writer is the moral of the story, but thanks for keeping me honest!