I bring this next topic up because I want my posts to be relevant to contemporary Christianity. As such, I feel that not all my posts need to be about theological issues, but also issues related to what’s going on today and how we should respond.
In April, Mississippi passed a law that restricted the government from impeding the free practice of religion for their citizens. While there were many positive intended uses for this law, it has also been used to support the action of refusing to do business with people whom you don’t agree with their lifestyle – i.e. the LGBT community.
One side of the fence feels that refusing to do business with homosexuals is in the same camp as not doing business with alcoholics, with pedophiles, or with convicted murderers. They don’t want to show support for those actions, and so they feel it is their Christian duty to not serve them.
The other side of the fence feels this is a civil rights issue. Not doing business with that community is the same as refusing to do business with blacks or with women.
My question is: Does the example Christ gave us in his actions and ministry support either side? In the follow-up writings of the New Testament authors and apostles after Christ’s resurrection, do we see any answers to how we should respond?
I am not writing any of this to make an argument about whether or not being gay is a sin. What I’m writing about is, if you are coming from that perspective, what should your reaction be based on Jesus and his example.
From what we know of Jesus, he was a skilled worker of some sort – most say a carpenter. As a business man, can we honestly picture Jesus refusing to do business with Roman pagans? Would Jesus politely turn his back on the prostitute needing a new table? How about the hypocritical Pharisee that he didn’t agree with theologically?
In actuality, Jesus seemed to go out of his way to serve the sinner, the cheater, the prostitute. He apparently went to seek out the “unclean” peoples and commune with them, eat with them, be friends with them. His ministry on earth was more than fighting for the poor, downtrodden, and distraught. He came to repaint the picture of what God was expecting out of his people towards treating others.
He desired mercy to those who trespassed against him.
He desired love for his enemies.
He desired restoration.
And to accomplish this, he served us.
Jesus did not picture “serving” someone as condoning their actions. He didn’t seem to feel that if you communed with sinners or cheats that you were supporting their lifestyles or encouraging their motives. In fact, what we see are the very people Jesus was serving were finding reason to turn from their actions and follow him.
“The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” When he came to serve, it was to serve a people he wholeheartedly did not agree with. Humanity was in a fallen state of rebellion to God. What was God’s response to rebellion? Refusing to converse with us?
He “emptied himself, by taking on the form of the slave.” And “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” He came for us, served us, and died for us. And the power of the cross is so strong, that it reconciled us to him through it.
At what point does today’s Christian find motivation from the New Testament to be called to refuse service towards those they don’t agree with? What I’m saying is, there is nothing about following Jesus that calls us to REFUSE serving others.
A friend of mine who was once a part of the church, and has since left, wrote a pretty colorful and angry response to Christians and their actions towards a people they didn’t agree with. While his words are harsh and full of raw emotion, he also has a point in some of the things he said. And I think we would do well to recognize the image of Christ we are portraying with our actions. When we refuse to serve, we are not communicating a message of “tough love.” We are not saying “love the sinner but hate the sin.” And we are certainly not saying “we are a loving community of the God of Love.”
We are communicating “we hate you.” We are saying “we’re better than you.” We are saying “you are in the wrong and I have no place for you in my life.” To be sure, we are not (in many cases) MEANING to communicate this, but we are. And I do not find support in Christ’s message and ministry to act in this way.
Because Christ asked us to love our enemies.
He reminded us that we are not receiving heaven because of our actions, because we are good people, because we “got it right.” We are, in fact, supposed to be humbling ourselves as God humbled HIMself. We are called to serve those we feel we should not serve.
And the power of the cross is so strong that, through the act of serving the world, God will reconcile the world to himself.
A blogger I follow recently said something like “we are not called to change the world, but to serve it.” I will follow that by saying, we are not responsible for changing the world. That is not what God called us to do by being a “light.”
Changing hearts is God’s domain. Serving God is ours.
So if God asked us to serve our enemies, we shall. If he asked us to love all people, we shall. You don’t have to agree with the people you serve. You just have to communicate through your service that God shows no partiality, that he accepts all who come to him, and that we are not better – we just recognize we don’t have it all together and need God to change our hearts.
This, I feel, would show a much stronger message of God’s love than refusing to do business with the “sinner.”
Here are some of my other posts about what grace means, about what service means, and about how your actions today are molding who you’ll be tomorrow .