Monday, May 14, 2012

The Truth Hurts

Have you ever had to go to someone and tell them a known fact that will hurt their feelings, knowing in your heart that if you don't tell them they may lose their life or a limb or be otherwise damaged for their actions.

Here is an example:

Your child has an illness, but prior to knowing about that illness, he/she became involved in a sport or activity which became an integral part of their life.  Upon learning about the illness, the doctor informs you that your child must  not engage in this type of action anymore because if this one thing happens while your child is doing this action it will kill him/her.

Wouldn't you immediately go to your child and advise him/her of the danger now inherent to performing this feat?   Of course you would!

Why then is it considered hate speech these days to advise your children or others when their actions (which we might call "sin") while living day to day life (the thing that they love so much) will result in the death of their soul?

This came to me today as I was contemplating the subject of gay marriage.  I was thinking about this for several reasons:  1) President Obama's revelation this past week that he is now "pro" gay marriage; 2) my Pastor was involved in the United Methodist General Conference meetings where the issue of homosexuals in the church was an important discussion; and 3) I have someone near and dear to my heart who is directly affected by this matter because this person is gay.

(As an aside here, I just want you to know that after typing the above information.  I closed my laptop and sat it aside for about nine hours.)

The Holy Spirit convicted me today because I have tried to walk a thin line in this discussion by taking a position where my "near and dear to my heart" friend agreed to disagree, but I also never shared with this person exactly what my position is and why I feel the way I do.  I pussyfooted around the subject telling them (rightly to some degree) that he/she needed to read the Bible in its entirety and not just the verses that suited  his/her frame of mind and that (again rightly) he/she needed to take it to God in prayer and follow His leading in how to deal with the situation.

I still feel like all that advice was good advice.  However, there is so much more to actually being a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said that for anyone to be His disciple, they would need to 1) die to their own wants (or their self); 2) they would need to daily pick up that cross of self-denial; and 3) they would need to follow Him, or as I look at it, walk in His footsteps...footsteps that lead to a cross, death, and miraculously, resurrection to an entirely new state of being.  href="">Luke 9:23-26 

We are also told that if we see a fellow believer in sin, we are to go to them in love and gently admonish them.  If they repent and return to the narrow path, then we are seen as a hero and will be rewarded, but if we see their sin and do not help them back to the path, then we will be held accountable.   (Read Ezekial 33 and Galatians 6).

This matter is the subject of a great divide that is being wrought in our country.  The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is very consistent.  The message that is woven throughout all 66 books does not unravel and change.  God created man and woman to be husband and wife and to reproduce and populate the earth.  The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed due the lifestyle lived within their walls (and I'm sure it consisted of more than just sodomy and lesbianism).    That being said, 1 Cor. 6:9 says:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
and Revelation 21:8 states with startling clarity:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and sexually impure, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
As we walk daily with Christ, we are to die to the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life.  It is a frequently used cliche' that "the truth hurts", but the statement is so true.   It hurts us deeply when someone points out our sin to us.   As human beings, we all have seen others suffer and have suffered ourselves through so many different types of discrimination, bullying, political inequities and general bigotry that I believe most of us are trying to be more kind, more loving, more accepting of each other.  However, if you really study Jesus as you read the Bible, you will note that He changed many people's lives simply by loving them and and being willing to teach them the about the fruit of self-denial; how it humbles you, how it helps you to see the importance of lifting others up while at the same time, keeping yourself to a minimum.  He taught respect for all people, no matter what their circumstances; BUT He did not teach tolerance for sin;  He showed them their sin, loved them and told them to go and "sin no more". 

As I have told this "near and dear to my heart" person many times, SIN IS SIN IS SIN.  God cannot even be in the presence of sin.  So all sin is equal.  A person who murders is a sinner.  A person who lies is a sinner.  A person who commits adultery is a sinner.  We have ALL SINNED!!  The GOOD NEWS (GREAT NEWS REALLY) is that God, in His wisdom, love and mercy saw that men and women had no ability to live sinless lives and therefore, all would be condemned to death for the price of sin is death. So our great God took on human form - the form of sin - and came and dwelt among us and took our punishment on Himself by dying on the cross and becoming sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him would be saved (John 3:17).  He did NOT teach tolerance; He taught repentance, as in "you are forgiven; go and sin no more"! And once people's lives were transformed by His love, mercy and grace; His spirit was supernaturally imparted to them and each day He coaxed (coaxes) more and more obedience out of His followers. He taught (teaches) submission to HIS leading.   

Since God's ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are not our thoughts, He is capable of doing things and changing people in ways we cannot even imagine. BUT a life given to Christ IS a life of submission; a life of dying to: our fleshly wants,  the lust of our eyes (idolatry) and the pride of life. We have the right idea; but the wrong message. Love, acceptance; yes. Tolerance; no. Repentance; yes. Lead by example; die to yourself. Give up your wants and accept His desire for your life. A life lived like that is sure to impact many others.
Do you really think that a GREAT, MERCIFUL, LOVING, WISE God would draw you near to Him, reveal Himself to you, and leave you high and dry?  No way.  The One True God calls you, draws you, reveals Himself and leads you.   You will know when He is calling you to leave another part of the "old life" or the "old man" behind, and IT WILL BE HARD, but such is the life we are called to.
2nd Timothy 1:12:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
If God brings you to it; then God is gonna see you through it!  And REALLY, if you have understood the great Biblical truths that are contained in the Word; seen Jesus Christ for WHO HE IS; and CHOSEN to follow Him, don't you REALLY want to be like Him and live the way He lived in accordance to His laws and leading?  If not, then it's all really just another VIRTUAL REALITY being played out in your mind and not being lived out in real life.
To bring this to a close, I have to go back to that 9 hour interlude when my laptop was closed.   I didn't want to write this when I got that far.  I knew what God was saying to me, but I was immediately reminded of Luke 12:53 which says:

The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

This is a subject which brings division and now that I know God's mind in this, I must obey.  I must share this, and it is not my intent to bring division, but to bring healing.   Jesus said that he brought division, but God's heart is for healing for ALL people, and healing in the ultimate sense is to be reconciled to God because there is no greater state of being on earth than to be at peace and one with God.

Lord, God, my prayer tonight is that you would fill me with your wisdom and that your holy spirit would speak words of truth and love through me to ALL people.  I ask that you would begin preparing the heart of my loved one to hear what I have to say about what you have to say about gay marriage and homosexuality.  Bind the spirit of division and unleash all the power of love that is found in heaven.  May your angel of protection rule over this post. In Jesus' name I ask this.  Amen.

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