I recently wrote a blog called, "What's your bungee cord made of?" in which I layout that all of us have sins that pull us back away from God and the life he wants for us to have. For the rich man who comes to Jesus looking for the one thing that would put him in good standing with God ("What must I do to inherit the Kingdom of God?"), its his wealth that pulls him back and keeps him chained. I too like the rich man have been chained as well in many ways. Like most men, sex is a very potent drug that tugs at our very being and in our society it is used everywhere to get our attention. I recently went to the gym and could not believe what the woman next to me was wearing as "gym clothes". She looked like she just stepped out of a Victoria Secret catalog for their push-up bra line. There she was, jogging (not walking) on the treadmill next to me. I strained to keep my eyes looking straight ahead at my TV screen as she bounced along (she was voluptuous to say the least). But I had a choice:
- Keep trying to look ahead ... but peeking whenever I could get a chance
- Move to another treadmill.
My option was the second one...but not without a lot of contemplation of #1 first and I must be honest that it took me much longer to come to this decision than what it should have. Did I feel superior in making this decision? No, not really. In fact it made me realize even more how sinful I really am that I could not stay put where I was. Like a laser-pointer in a presentation it brought to my attention even more how weak I am (maybe that is what God meant when he told Paul, "My grace is sufficient, because my strength is made perfect in weakness") .
After writing the previous blog I have a had a lot of time to contemplate how Jesus handled the situation with the young rich man. It says, "he looked at him with love". Not anger or righteous indignation. Either of which he would be totally entitled to but yet he did not. And even when the man left "sad", Jesus did not point at him and say anything angry or negative to him. Did he call for the man to be stoned? No. Instead he makes a very truthful and sadly profound statement when he says, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God" and then later "It is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God".
I think Jesus said this with a tear in his eye (though the Gospel doesn't say so). We too will come in contact with many people who will "walk away sad" after hearing the Gospel. Either they will think it too easy to be true or too difficult to accept. We are all given choices in our lives to either follow Jesus or stay attached to the things in this life we want more. Jesus understood this more than any of us and yet he still went to the cross for the rich young man as well. We too must have the mind of Christ as well and have compassion for those who choose NOT to walk with us and let them walk away in peace.
Another section of verses that have greatly influenced me are from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”[d]Here Paul lays out for how the church should deal with those who are sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers or idolaters. But note the little phrase in verse 10 where he says, "not at all meaning the people of this world". To the people in the legal profession this is called, an exception clause. He even shows them that to avoid these people in the world would require you to hop on a rocket move yourself to another planet. Instead the people should be avoided ONLY if they pretend to be followers of Jesus and are in the church. There is the line in the sand that Paul draws for us to pay heed to. He later in verse 13 even goes on to remind them that "God will judge those OUTSIDE (the church)".
Does this mean we don't speak the truth to the homosexual community? Not at all. Just as Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth to the rich young man ( I wonder how many lackeys the rich young man had following him were unwilling to tell him this truth Jesus was telling him to his face). But we must do so in love. We must be willing to confess our own weaknesses and sins and show them that it is BY GOD'S GRACE we are forgiven and that we are made righteous by what Jesus already did for us on the cross. We need to understand however that they have some very strong "bungee cord" attached to them and that it will take a miracle of God's grace to help them walk away.
Recently my wife and I were in Carmel CA on vacation. We were being served by a young man who by his own way of speaking you could not but notice he was gay. In the past I would have probably opted to go find a different place to eat, but because of God's grace I was able to smile at the young man and allow him to serve us our food. Did we talk about faith or anything? No, we did not. He was there to work and serve others and to do so would keep him from doing so. I did pray for him that God would reach out to him some way through those around him. Maybe some already have, I don't know. I just pray that whoever does talk with him someday has this mindset and not one that seeks its own self-righteous indignation as I might have a few years ago.