Some know God. Many don’t. Many claim and posture like they do, but really?
Conditions exist that permit us to enter the presence of God. Not being a theologian, I’m dogma-averse. And let me say this clearly – I’m deeply ashamed of (and offended by) the unthinking, uncaring, unloving manner the church treats people in general. Especially! This treatment toward believers with problems.
Many of the evangelical leaders – ones I love and respect – are painting borders. Putting up fences. To them, it’s their job to assess me. I’m either in or out, from their perspective. If I believe one way or have this or that problem, I’m either welcome or not. Sounds like Pharisees are taking over, doesn’t it?
Churches have become a “clique” at least. “Cult” is a tough term to swallow. But a big chunk of evangelical christendom totters on the brink of apostasy. Dwelling far from Jesus.
If there is a litmus test for faith, and indeed, there is… What actually is it?
Who has problems? We all do. But the ones we need to address are those which impact our relationship with God. People who tend to worry more about money than about keeping a genuine connection with the Creator? Should probably stop wasting their time and read no further. If your biggest concern is your appearance, performance or who will see you on Sunday? Read something else.
If your inner being says I cannot live without the presence of God in my life? …what’s it take to find Him and what’s involved with staying connected?
So, having declared this a “Dogma free zone”, what follows is a personal understanding of my relationship with God. This understanding underpins the “Hope I have in me.” (1Peter 3:15) And this the means by which I part from rigid condemnation of same-sex attracted persons. Same also: People who struggle with alcoholism, addiction, porn, bla blah bla.
God’s first and most powerful witness is creation. Full stop. Absorb.
I didn’t say “Scripture.” Yes, scripture is a testament of God. But FIRST, foremost, forever and before there was scripture, before anything was written by men: God’s word produced Creation. And when God talks about himself he points to creation. If you want to check on this wisdom, see Job ch. 28 (for starters.)
If we are unable to sense God – I mean with ALL of our SENSES – we have nothing to start with other than Dogma from others on which to base our faith. The smell of bacon, and that sizzling sound. Suddenly I’m happy and anticipate enjoying breakfast. Makes me grateful to God on so many levels. Any given sunset shouts the glory of God, and sometimes more so – sunrises that fewer see. The feel of my dog’s beating heart as she pushes close to me on the couch. Taste of fresh buttered popcorn? Heavenly.
And there is a “sixth sense”, isn’t there? I have a God shaped hole in my heart. It’s like: I was made for Him.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”Psalm 34:8
I sense that I’m hungry for God, I know there is something more than just this world. Yes, I can “taste” God. Nature exists so I can experience – and EXPECT – something beyond myself. He’s there, but He’s not forcing Himself on me. It’s my choice to sense more deeply. Am I willing? I’m free to choose.
So what about things that go against nature, that interfere with an unadulterated experience of God? Well often, if we’re authentic before the Lord, we’ll have to admit – the way we have lived interferes with our experience of Him. The experience of Him begins with an irreversible, undeniable awareness of His awesome existence. His presence, NOW. It produces the ultimate sense of humility – that God is God and I am not God. No one can tell me this, I can’t read it into existence, I can’t be taught this. I can’t adopt it from someone else. I either sense Him or I don’t.
I found out that beer interfered with my experience of God. The question was: Would I numb myself in party mode, or hang up the mug for a real taste of the Spirit of God? It took me a decade to finally agree with God. Duh. He’s always right.
This is the way it is – our faults are generally anchored in our “unnatural” tendency to over-indulge God’s gifts to us. Wine is wonderful unless you abuse it. Narcotics? Sex? Wisdom? These are all “natural” attractions – biological ones mostly. But when abused, they become toxic to my spirit.
Here’s what’s relevant.
To my LGBTQ brothers and sisters: Where does nature figure into your equation? I hear you say “I was born this way.” Well, so was the alcoholic, the addict, the one attracted to kiddy porn. I also hear: “I deserve to have love.” So also said the AA and addict – “I can’t live without my drink.”
Is denial part of the problem? (join the club!)
Please! I am not accusing you, I’m welcoming you to the struggle. This is a very deep conversation. Perhaps the deepest of them all. Jesus said some were appointed into lives without sex. (Yup. See Mathew 19:12, cited a little way below.)
The details of this question are beyond the scope of this post, but I’ll have the discussion with you, if you contact me. Let’s compare how these things are designed to play out? I think you’ll find something precious about your calling into a very special relationship with God. Overcoming our most powerful “natural” tendencies in favor of living a “supernatural” life is the very center of this calling. In this is a powerful witness God planned from the beginning for us.
“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”Matthew 19:4-6
If God made us with a particular set of characteristics? Such as: Alcoholic. Addict. Same-sex attracted… (Insert any character defect, weakness, lack here.) A question is why?
Perhaps a better question is why would I find fault with what God made? Would I / Should I attempt to change it? This element contends with actual “Brokenness.” Ooops… this steps even further into the deep end. Who says so? And, how do I actually know the truth. Does it come from someone in a pulpit? Or does God speak this into my heart? (Our choice matters here.) Shouldn’t we fall in love with the way god made us? “Fearfully and wonderfully” Psalm 139:14
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”2 Corinthians 1:3
So why do we exist, and why do I experience difficulty? The simple truth is to amplify our need for Him. “God whispers to us in our pleasure. But He shouts to us in our Pain.” What’s it going to take? For me to surrender and follow?
Submission to truth.
But I encourage you, don’t take ten years to decide. All you’ll do is miss out on savoring a real, meaningful, fulfilling walking and talking relationships with the Creator of the universe. There is no substitute for authenticity.
These difficulties are appointed to each one according to the perfect design of God. And as I learn to overcome them, by Gods grace, I become a witness and a comforter to those who similarly struggle.
“God never wastes a hurt.”12-Step Saying
What I know is “Everyone” is welcome. But sadly, there are few who find freedom. I sit in services with people who smell of alcohol. I love them and my heart breaks, because they may never be free from that affliction. And other addicts. I know, next door to that one is another with a completely unique set of struggles. On that side, it’s whatever. On this side, it’s me.
You don’t even have to agree with me. You’re welcome to sit with me in services. My highest hope for you is that you’d experience an authentic hunger and thirst for righteousness. There is no substitute.
A test we can apply to ourselves is: Who does my behavior serve? If I’m making excuses to cover selfish compulsions, that makes me human. That’s the hurdle.
“Is it causing you spiritual pain? Just quit it!”A beloved Mentor
Passover was yesterday. Jesus came out of the grave and who’d he speak with first? Who was his messenger to the disciples? Mary Magdalene. Prostitute, possessor of demons.
“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”Luke 7:47
Mary was weeping at the grave, heart broken because of the absence of the presence of the Lord. Am I like that? When my compulsions separate me from the presence of God in my life, does my heart break:
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”Matthew 5:4
Jesus loves the lowest of the low, the most despicable, the most broken. Powerlessness is a trait he can work with.
Let’s fight the fight together. Everyone welcome.