It’s interesting to me how after you publish a piece of literature in any way related to something spiritual or God-esk, suddenly everyone starts asking you all these big questions regarding what you believe. All of the sudden they want to know your opinion on the “push button” topics of morality and religion hoping for either justification or to find a damning piece of evidence against you. Quickly, what you believe on these topics carries some kind of weight and it’s both terrifying and exciting.
So now people ask me, “Jess, what do you believe about homosexuality? What do you believe about abortion? What do you believe about sex before marriage? What do you believe about protesting or tithing or kicking people out of church or porn? What do you believe about ________?”
I can’t help but wonder when people ask me these things if they really want to know if I’m for gay marriage and women pastors or if they just want to know if the things that I’m against line up with the things that they’re against. It comes across to me as if what people really want to know is “If I believe in this whole grace thing do I still get to be against the same things I am now? Do I still get to hate gay people? Do I still get to tell my wife she has to submit to me? Do I still get to be a Conservative? Do I still get to be mad at Bush or Obama or Gary Busey (he is pretty creepy after all)?” And I can’t help but be burdened and saddened by how many things we are against and how many people look to their religion to justify their againstness.
Today, I am going to answer all those questions. I am going to tell you what I believe, and I’m going to do that by telling you all the things that I am for.
I am for life.
I am for freedom.
I am for love.
I am for forgiveness.
I am for acceptance.
I am for second chances.
I am for passion.
I am for servant leadership.
I am for the broken, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
I am for restoration.
I am for creativity.
I am for respect, loyalty, and faithfulness.
I am for radical, excessive, scandalous grace. Grace that doesn’t check you at the door to make sure that your political party, sexual orientation, history, or habits measure up before it invites you in. Grace that loves us exactly as we are and way too much to leave us there. Grace that lavishes when we fail, exceeds when we fall short, and pursues when we turn away.
I am for what Jesus was for. Plain and simple.
Whatever big morality question you have about my beliefs on the “big issues;” let it be answered by what I am for. Let me be known by what I am for. Let the church be known by what it is for.
I know that there’s this really annoying passage in 1 Corinthians that talks about kicking someone out of the church and maybe down the road if that’s an actual situation that I have to be a part of my view and thinking might change but I guess I just want to be the person who always errs on the side of grace. I just feel like there are so many stories out there about people who walked away from Christ because so many Christians weren’t like Him. So many people out there think God hates them simply because the church does.
It’s sad. Thinking about it actually brings me to tears. See, because I was one of those people.
So many people gave up on me, called me a lost cause, told me I wouldn’t ever amount to anything. All because I wasn’t against what they were against. All because I couldn’t bring myself to preach condemnation while I knew how much I deserved it.
I write all this merely to encourage all who read it to be known by what they’re for instead of what they’re against. So often I have failed at this, so often I have been known by what I'm against instead of what I'm for. It's time to change that. We have the power to change how the world sees God simply by acting more like Him. Simply by loving like He loves, by being for what He is for.
May you search deep within our spirit and discover what you are for. May you focus more on your cause than on your opposition. May you then find the freedom to embrace the rejected and bring hope to the hurting. And may you love like He loves and show the world what He is for.
As our church, Chase Oaks says, "Come as you are, whoever you are. Be transformed by the love and grace of God. Make a difference in your world.". Basically sums up what you said.ReplyDelete
It's time we start taking a different approach if we're going to reach people, lots of people. I'm so tired of churches that spend so much time blasting those that don't fit into that mold they believe the Bible paints and then can't figure out why their churches aren't growing. Can't wait to read your book. Finally a new perspective. I can think of a few churches we could send one to.