WWJD?

I want to admit something to you.  Maybe this won’t shock many of my friends, but in the last year I’ve had trouble reconciling my Christian faith with the love of Christ.  Well, that isn’t exactly right.  I’ve been having trouble reconciling my Christian faith with many (but not all)  CHRISTIANS, and because of that, I’ve distanced myself from Christians in many ways.  I usually refer to myself as “a follower of Christ” instead of a Christian……maybe that’s not fair.  Maybe it is not kind that I don’t want to be pulled in with what I perceive as a group of (usually American) people who spend most of their time condemning others, closing church doors to people, and otherwise seem to focus on rules and regulations instead of “loving others….including your enemies”.  I’ve written on this blog about many of the ways the American Christian Church has acted toward me as a lesbian, or towards “other” including people of color, non-Evangelicals, progressive Christians, or anyone that doesn’t fit into the little box of Evangelical Christians as defined by many in this country.

But, I have to admit as well, that I have missed the ever-present discussions of how amazing Christ really is.  I have missed ongoing discussions of the Power that Christ represents to me, and even the worship that feeds my soul more than I can express in words.  I have missed that fellowship.  Not that I have left anything – believe me, I fellowship with Christ often and am blessed EVERY DAY by His love.  No, I am not referring to Jesus……I am referring to the human fellowship of the Church, the ones who too often seem to rather say to me that I am going to hell or am somehow deficient in too many ways to TRULY be a follower of Christ.

Yes, I hear often that I CAN’T be a Christian, because of many reasons.

And yet, He has not forsaken me.  He has not stopped loving me, at all.  He is present in so many ways that even if I TRIED to put distance between us, I would fail.  I have been grafted into His life, and no one can change that.

So, as I sit as a lesbian on my new porch, smoking a cigar and listening to the evening songs the birds are singing to me…….drinking water and considering the rich blessings that He has provided for me…….I came across this on Facebook:

WWJD?
What DID Jesus do?
1. He openly questioned the religion of his upbringing.
2. He quoted scripture from his ” Bible” said it was wrong and did otherwise.
3. He encouraged others to move beyond the commandments in scripture to follow their heart.
4. He openly embraced people his ” Bible” forbade him to associate with and he was NOT trying to convert them to his religion.
5. He never asked to be worshiped and did not start a new religion.
6. He did not believe scriptures were the “Word of God.” (He clearly called them “The word of Moses.”)
7. He was shut out, shunned and eventually killed by religious leaders.
8. He never asked anyone to pray a “sinner’s prayer” or to ask him into their heart.
9. He rarely attended religious gatherings and, when he did, it was often to denounce their practices.
10. He put “meeting human need” over any kind of religious activities or exercises.
Maybe you SHOULD follow Jesus after all!
Robert Rutherford

This might sound weird to you, Christian who has not been struggling with religion being used as a club against other humans, but the above restored some hope in me.  It reminded me of the beauty that first pierced my heart when I was 16 years old and KNEW that the Love and Grace of Christ wanted my held safely in His arms.  It restored my hope of being loved, period.  It challenged me to walk in the Truth that I am a King’s Kid, saved beyond any indictment or conviction.  That I did nothing to receive this amazing gift, but also that no human could tell me I am not protected.  I have once again been challenged to look at every human – yes, even those who spew hate at me and mine – as also King’s Kid, even if they’ve not professed their acceptance of the King.  I recall that I am to love even the most vile person, as Christ did, though am so tempted to call out the self-proclaimed “religious elite” as a den of wipers as Jesus did.  I have been challenged to truly try to emulate Christ and look at each person as someone of value, even if we have very different world views or even religious beliefs.

Because, that is what Jesus would do.

 

Silence Hurts

This is a post I made on Facebook today, and I am sharing here as well.

Warning: This is a hurtful video that I do not support, but link to substantiates my statements here, and this is a somewhat politicized post. I apologize for both, but silence does not stop the hate that is put out there. I will not be silent.

Note:  The link to Pastor Steve L. Anderson’s comments has been deleted from YouTube for violating their policy on hate speech.  I am very glad for that, because it was definitely filled with hate.

Yesterday, a few comments I read and interacted with said that Christians cannot or do not hate. That there is not an agenda against homosexuals and that this was not a hate crime, but a Muslim Terrorist Attack. I personally have not heard the investigators on the Orlando mass murder state they have determined if this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime, so I cannot argue one way or another. But, this Pastor is sure it was not a hate crime against gays. He is sure the murderer was Muslim and a terrorist. But beyond that, this man who has taken the sacred place of preaching the Word of God said the murders in Orlando brought some good news – “50 sodomite pedophiles are now dead”. This man says this in the name of MY GOD. I stopped watching the video at that point, because finding good in what happened alone is egregious, hateful, and shameful.

Friends who are Christians, if you truly believe murder is something that brings “good news”, you grieve me.

Friends who are Christians, if you truly believe there is not at least a minority of Christians who hate me for no other reason but the fact I am a lesbian, and use the Word of God to justify that hate, you grieve me. This man hates me and wants me dead, or at least would be happy if I were killed, only because I am gay.

Friends who are Christians, if you can on one hand admit that you have sin in your life or at times make or have made immoral decisions, but have been saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ, and on the other hand can ALSO believe that someone else’s “moral failings” such as being homosexual opens up risk or created a situation where it makes sense that innocent people were murdered (aka, well they were at a gay bar, so if they were not gay/not in that place, they would not have been killed), you grieve me. ALL have sin and fall short of the glory of God, but any boasting I can make is because of my Lord, Jesus Christ. He does not want me murdered for any failings in my life, because He already died for them.

Friends who are Christians, if you are not upset that a man, for WHATEVER REASON, walked into a public place and murdered 50 people and injured over 50 more…….if you don’t even have a brief moment of sadness for the lives lost and all the families that lost a son, a daughter, a brother, a whatever…….you grieve me.

Friends who are Christians, if your argument is “well, MOST Christians don’t feel the same as this Pastor” and stop there, you grieve me. If you don’t stand up against this hate, you allow it to continue.

Friends who are Christians, if your FIRST thought was to worry about gun control, blame all Muslims, point to Obama as if this was his fault, you grieve me.

Friends who are Americans of any faith, our fellow Americans were murdered today. Lives were stolen and those who were killed, to my knowledge, did not break any laws to justify their death. They were not given the opportunity to be convicted of any crimes, they were deemed guilty without any review, and were sentenced to death. That is not the Aemrican way where we are innocent until proven guilty without a reasonable doubt. Those lives that were ended tragically deserve more than a quick sweep away due to the fact that they were homosexuals.

Finally, I try not to live as a victim, but the fact remains that I am condemned, ridiculed, tormented, and judged more often than you know. Sometimes it is in my FB feed through posts made by YOU. Sometimes, it is in internet posts that I come across. Sometimes it is from friends in PM. Sometimes it is from strangers in person in public places. I try to take the high road often and give others room for their own beliefs and their rights as Americans to free speech. But I will NOT, ever, accept that hate doesn’t exist. I will not sit back and say overt and articulated hate in the name of Jesus Christ is right. We are better than that. I am better than that. This hate is real, and it does nothing for us as a faith community nor as a nation.

I will be praying for Pastor Steven. And I will be praying for those who have been killed. And I will be praying for my family.

Edify

Yesterday, my wife received a “loving message” from a friend.  This message was kind in that it clearly said, “it is absolutely up to you to live the life you see fit to live”.  In essence, this person “accepted” that Deana has decided to live her life married to a woman, though the implication was that her lifestyle is a choice.  Deana, like me, knows that is not reality, but we don’t argue the point often.  But, the message didn’t end there.  The woman, “in love”, said that she would be praying for Deana as she believed Deana’s choice will ultimately lead to a premature death, which made the writer of the note very sad.

I am obviously and admittedly reacting to this interaction in a way that is not my desired M.O., though I will do my best to do it logically and calmly.  However, I think it is important to break through the barriers and be real about aspects of our lives that exist.  Deana, for her part, reacted in grace to this “friend” and sent out love in return.  I commend her.  But I am going to be super real here for a moment and share some intimate reality with you.  This message made both of us cry.  This message, for a moment, made us wonder why we try so hard to love others, who AT LEAST EVERY COUPLE OF WEEKS reach out and do nothing but condemn us (different people, randomly).  As the tears roll down our faces, we audibly wonder why we fight so hard to remain in the Christian community.  We sit and, as we cry, feel guilty for the rage that begins to stir in our guts, praying to the Lord to please, PLEASE, lead us in His path and help us not to react in the flesh.  But, even with the shame we feel for the rage that is burning slowing across our stomachs, it is way better than the pain and anguish we feel as the slime of judgment sent by others fights its way over us.  Rage is always my preference to the pain, and yet I know we are called to love.

I ask you seriously……..think hard about this………if I walked up to a smoker and said, “I love you so much and I know it’s totally up to you to smoke.  I honestly don’t have a problem with you smoking because you’re my friend.  But I am praying for you because I know it will probably mean you will die way younger than you should.”……I would probably be somewhat accurate.  At best, their quality of life could be significantly compromised as they aged.  But in doing so, was the relationship that I so obviously have (“I love you so much”) EDIFIED by the interchange?  Do you really, REALLY think that “showing love” is telling someone “you’re killing yourself” really going to make them think about what they’re doing?  Maybe.  I think the interchange builds barriers, throws shame from one friend to another, and doesn’t really change the fact that the one friend will still smoke.  Condemnation will not cause them to stop smoking.

What if it is something that is NOT really a choice?  What if I told you I haven’t had over 1200 calories a day for weeks, that I have been way more active, and I haven’t lost weight?  What if I am just glad that I haven’t GAINED weight, but you tell me I am going to die younger because of my “poor eating habits”?  What if genetics or other health issues are causing this weight issue for me?  What am I supposed to do with your “claims of love” when you take hope and throw it down the toilet with your words?  What if I am at a breaking point, frustrated from my lack of weight loss, and then you come in and put the nail in the coffin of my efforts with your words of condemnation?

I don’t want to be that kind of person.  I don’t want to DIScourage, but ENcourage.  And telling someone they’re going to hell or going to die young is not encouragement.  It is BS.

The Bible is clear that the tongue is dangerous – it can cause fires to burn, hearts to break, and unrighteousness to befall man.  Yet, the same tongue can EDIFY others.  And I contend that the “tongue” of this friend did not edify Deana.  Instead, condemnation was the only byproduct.  And, truth be known, so many follow this supposed “love” formula and I am rather sick of it.  Stop being that way.  It doesn’t do ANYTHING except maybe make yourself feel righteous or caring and that is BS too.  You don’t give a CRAP about Deana and you don’t give a CRAP about the smoker or the fat person, but you may only feel better because now “the blood is not on your hands”.  Well, it never WAS on your hands.  I’d rather you pray for us if you truly feel compelled to do so, because we have faith in Jesus Christ and we actually TRUST in Him.  But I digress.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV says:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Deana was not built up by that message, but was torn down.  She said to me, “The only reason I will not leave the Christian Community** is because of you and (very close friend).  The two of you speak Christ to me, and I am so glad for it.  But today, it is harder to walk in that decision.”

I am writing this blog today for no other reason, from my heart, than to encourage you to think about how you interact with EVERYONE.  Are you building them up?  Do you REALLY believe telling someone they’re going to hell or will die young because of their life gives grace to them?  Think on these things, because I have met hundreds of people who have told me they do not go to church because of Christians telling them they are going to hell, are an abomination, or other hope-stealing comments.  That is not a cop out by some angry lesbian, that is the truth.  And my wife, who loves the Lord with all she is, doesn’t need to end her evening by crying about being told she is going to die young for being married.  FEAR doesn’t work, and if I may suggest, it does nothing for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are better than that.

Thank you for reading.

** This is NOT about losing faith in Christ or rejecting Him.  This is about associating with the very RELIGION and those who walk in condemnation in the name of Christ.

 

 

 

 

Fury

Today, a dear loved one reached out to me because their parents rejected them.  This LGBT young person has been out for about a year and has struggled with their relationship with their parents the entire time.  Recently, they wrote a long and very detailed email explaining how they reconciled their sexuality with their Christian faith and how they believed the Bible does not condemn them.  This was a very personal email, very open with tons of emotions, vulnerability, and hope.  Hope that, maybe with all the details and the proof that this person has been heavily in the Word and prayer, they would come to understand how much Jesus meant to their child even though they are also gay.  Days had passed and even with the history of a year of anger, rejection, and even torment from this person’s parents, the writer held out hope and trusted; in the Lord and in their parents.

But, instead the parents responded with rejection.  Hatred, and I am not just using a buzzword because “they are standing up for their religion”.  They have condemned their child to hell and used words that I would not use on my worst enemy.  And that, in a word, made FURY rise in my heart.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not insist on its own way.  And yet, the response from the parents, in the name of Christ, made impatient demands.  Were unkind.  Insisted that the only way their child could be saved was to adopt and walk in the exact same manner established in their own heterosexual lives.  They said there was no hope for their child, that things would never work out for them.  It was filled with doom and distain.  Disgust.  Love does not do that.

FURY.  I am consumed with it.

They do not trust in their God, for the Bible they so heavily throw about says in Romans 8 that all things work out for those who love God.  I don’t think these parents lack love for God, but if they TRUSTED Him, they’d know that they need not fear for their child who is in Christ.  Yet, I am sure they think their child is NOT in Christ, which is so frustrating as well.  This human is so evidently a Child of God in word and deed, one that sacrifices for their neighbor and loves unconditionally.  In fact, 1 John says if people don’t love, God is not in them.  So, to learn of the condition of their parents’ love brings up FURY within me.  But maybe, based on their own “strong beliefs”, their child could be saved based on the Word and promises of God.  But again, it appears they don’t trust the Word.

And yet, I must take a step back and remember……I trust in the same God.  I know this will work out for this dear one, even though right now the pain is all consuming.  Even though the rejection and the harsh words and the outright condemnation being sent to this loving person is real and painful.  And my FURY, whether based on biblical verses or not, makes me no different than the parents, who used the Bible as a sword against their own child.  I am not like them.  I don’t want to be like them.  I need to LOVE, even when it is hard.

So, I am reminding myself (and everyone else)……

1 Cor 13:4-13 ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Please pray for this dear one.  Please pray that their heart is surrounded by the Love of Christ, that He removes the bleeding and pain.  Pray that the Lord fills the loss of their parents with many, many more who can assist in this role.  Pray for my FURY.  Pray for the parents, who must believe they’re doing the right thing, and have suddenly lost their child by choice.  And, also, if you think about it……..love people.  Where they are.  No conditions.

Church. The Struggle.

Tonight I read an article that I came across in my newsfeed on Facebook.  I have to admit, it seemed more angry than I personally feel towards the church, at least right now.  Yet, to be completely candid, the article DID bring up some pretty good points, and focused on many of the things I have personally gone through in my own walk as a LGBT Christian.

This article did get me thinking, so I wanted to share something with you regarding “church”.  It’s a struggle for me, and perhaps you may be surprised as to why.

To knock out the obvious, going to most churches is awkward for my family.  More often than not, we can’t just go to a church to check it out.  No, instead we have to vet it out; check out their web page, see if there are any notations about homosexuality on their “what we believe” sections, and I usually email the Pastor and straight out ask if it would be a problem if we attended.  Only about 40% of the respondents indicate “no, please don’t come” (or variations of the context, some not in a mean way though some of which are pretty aggressive about sin, though those happen only about 5% of the time).  45% struggle with what to say, hoping not to offend but still unable to respond in a positive way.  These sound more like, “wow, of course we hope you come over, though we have never had any such people in our church and we are not sure how the congregation would respond.”  Some ask if “we look gay”, wonder if they could meet with us before we attend, and that sort of thing.  10% have been affirming, and 5% have been predominantly LGBT churches.

I have to say, however, that it isn’t “easy” to go to a gay church, really.  I mean, our kids aren’t gay, you know?  And, in relation to OUR experience, more often than not when we attend the 15% gay or affirming churches, they are less conservative.  And, really, we like a more conservative, non-denominational church.  But the more conservative churches that are around are apt to not want us there.  So, can you imagine the struggle?  To sum it up, we really don’t fit into either church.

But even beyond that, what I REALLY, REALLY wish for is to just be able to go to church with my family.  Period.  I would LOVE to not even have to talk about the fact that Deana and I are LGBT.  In BOTH scenarios, we just want to worship our Lord and Savior, get into the Word, be fed and recharged with brothers and sisters in Christ, and not have this layer of “us” that truly just gets in the way.  It’s like having an extra layer of clothing on each time we go to church that makes it difficult to enter into the holy of holies.  It’s like walking with a scarlet letter on our lapels and everyone focuses on that letter instead of what we really are attending church for……and that just seems so wrong.  So, personally speaking, I avoid that.  Because it just seems like a circus to me, in both types of churches. And yet, when I do that, my very spirit suffers for it as I remove myself from fellowship.  From worship.  From what I believe I was created to do.  So I attend and work though it, but the cycle continues.

So, my heart of prayer often says, “Lord, let me be authentic, yes.  But can’t it just be about You?  Can’t we just assemble and BE?  Can’t we just kneel and sing and pray and listen and encourage and interact and follow?  Can’t it just be about learning to be more like You?”

So, in most ways I’ve tried to forgive, yes.  I don’t sit here hating evangelicals or wave my fist at those who condemn me to hell.  It hurts, I won’t lie, but I don’t despise the ones who say that so much today.  But what I miss, what my soul yearns for, is to just be able to worship.  Without asking.  Without wondering if my presence is offensive or bothering someone.  Without thinking the LGBT brothers and sisters with me are more interested in getting more churches to accept us.  Without even thinking about sexuality.  I yearn to just see the face of Jesus, to hold the hand of someone hurting as I pray with them, to laugh at a Pastor’s anecdote during a sermon, to cry with joy as I consider the vast love that God provides you and me for each moment of our lives, to be more like Him, and to do it not as an LGBT anything, but as a sister in Christ.

And, well, I am still praying.

 

 

 

 

An Apology to my Facebook Friends

That’s right, it’s me – Gina – apologizing to you all in a public forum, without excuse or justifications.  And the reason is, in recent months I’ve been very open about my views on Facebook (FB) about a number of subjects, including the Confederate Flag, the SCOTUS decision regarding same-sex marriage equality, and most recently the Kim Davis media frenzy.  It’s not so much that I think it was wrong that I shared my feelings – no, I think sharing when done without belligerence is often good for myself and others.  However, my sharing was manifested 100% from the heart of my natural state as opposed to the state I believe I’ve been taken as a follower of Christ.  And because this revelation has taken me a few weeks to encompass in my mind and heart, I am posting it here on my blog so that I can include my thoughts as an encouragement for myself as well as others.  Because, I think, others may easily manifest their thoughts as readily in the natural as I do.

Let me say many of these concepts I’ve personally taught at my old church and I was slapped awake by these ideas by my own notes, which I recently stumbled upon.  Many of the thoughts I derived from a sermon I heard several years ago given by Paul White.  So, I could be sad that I have “fallen from grace” and gone back to my own “law driven ways”, but instead I will just share my journey.  Thank you for reading my post and considering this trip I’ve been on.

We all like to try to take the high road, to act in an acceptable way, to be kind and loving and thought of in nice terms.  And yet, I think all of us can feel justified for responding to attacks (even if only perceived).  In that context, and to avoid a super duper long blog post, let me define three ways human actions manifest themselves on the earth:

Through the demonic – You treat me good, I return evil.  This is not just a reference to The Exorcist or other spiritually “freak me out” actions.  Instead, it’s more like a warning my mom always told me when I was younger, “Gina,” she’d warn, “never stop to help someone on the side of the road because they might be pretending to have an issue and they really are a serial killer.”  So, in this example, someone could stop to help someone on the side of the road (offer good), but in return they are killed (return of evil).  While this is an extreme example, I think there are often “demonic” activities that occur everyday where someone does something nice and someone returns a less than nice or even mean reaction.

Through the natural – this is where I usually live; you treat me well, I treat you well.  You treat me bad, I will treat you bad.  It’s pretty simple, we mirror each other and if you’re a jerk I will feel totally justified in being a jerk back to you.  I love those who love me, and despise those who despise me.  This happens often when someone cuts me off on the highway and I have no trouble showing my discontent.  In recent weeks, I have been compelled to think the very worst of Kim Davis, who I perceived as a hypocrite, judgmental and a cherry picker of scripture.  I felt totally justified in considering her a poor example of a Christian for her actions while doing many of the things I was railing against as I assembled my words of condemnation against her.  I laughed as others made fun of her appearance, I shook my head when her own sin was exposed.  In a phrase, I was just as judgmental and hypocritical as she was, just not on such a large media platform.

Through the spiritual, aka “The Highway” – you treat me well, I treat you well.  You treat me bad, I treat you good.  Basically, no matter what you throw at me, I will return love and goodness.  And, in my own power this is utterly impossible, as I’ve proven quite well in recent weeks.  But that’s not to say it is impossible.

So, let’s establish some Truth based on Scripture.  First, I have often thought the Kingdom of Heaven or of God was far off or something I would see after I died.  But the Word explains it very differently.  In Matthew 4:23 (ESV), when Jesus first started his earthly ministry the following was said (emphasis mine):

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Notice here Jesus FIRST proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, and THEN people started being healed.  He didn’t heal the people in order to proclaim/show the gospel of the kingdom.

Then, in Acts 1:1-3 (ESV), which records the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, after He was crucified, died, and rose from the grave, this was said (again, emphasis mine):

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.  He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

There is power in the Kingdom and Jesus spoke about it constantly, from the beginning of His earthly ministry to the very end.  Throughout the gospels it is recorded as being said “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.  It is not far off, it is not coming later……it is as close as my hand and it is here, now.  And there is power – healing power, power to change us and the world, and it is given to us freely through Jesus Christ.  I want this power in my life.  I want to live knowing I manifest myself in the Kingdom and act as if I belong in the Kingdom……not when I die or when I reach some level of spiritual maturity as if it will show up some day like a bill in the mail.

And yet, in Matthew 5:3 (ESV) at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And with that, I often freak out because, in many ways all I try to do is be more spiritual.  To be more INTELLIGENT when it comes to scriptures and theology and loving my neighbors and walking in this Truth, etc. etc. etc.  And yet, Jesus Himself said in order to find the kingdom of heaven, I must be poor in spirit.  And He said it in the present tense “theirs IS the kingdom”, not “theirs WILL BE the kingdom”.  And I believe this truly means I need to get to the end of myself and realize…….I can’t get there.  Not at all.  I can try to be very holy, very spiritual, very cerebral even in my understanding of God and His Word, but all I ever get by my own effort and actions is the power to manifest my life in the natural.  But, when I realize this and honestly say “I can’t do it, no matter how hard I try”, THAT is when Jesus smiles and says, “Now we will get somewhere”.  Because ONLY JESUS can carry us into the kingdom of heaven (as in the right now, right here version, not the place when we die).

So, as I did a few years ago, I began to give up on trying to be spiritual, of trying to manifest my interactions with others through “the Highway”.  Because I am poor in spirit and do not have the means in which to get there.  And I will tell you, when I begin to realize and act with this Truth, when my poverty is spirit is allowed to be real, THAT is when I begin to float to the kingdom of heaven with my Lord.

Have you ever seen The Passion of the Christ?  It shows Jesus being tortured, beaten, ridiculed……it is so graphic I often cry and always get very angry.  In that anger I want so badly for Christ to call His legions of angels down and destroy the Roman Soldiers and the Jewish leadership who were persecuting Him.  I think many of us would accept and understand if Jesus reacted that way, for He was completely undeserving of such horrible treatment.  Like so many of the politicians and Christians and LGBT folk do today; we scream out and demand our rights and insist that we ARE right and that we represent God and demand others see His personality and rules and actions through our eyes and explanations.  We claim to be persecuted and declare ourselves right to demand punishment for those who have hurt us.  We demand everyone should be held accountable to our views of our religion and even expect the laws of this land to reflect those morals and rules.  In God’s name we scream and get public attention and cause thousands of online debates and rancid comments and angry outbursts and we feel justified and righteous as we do it. Many of us actually PRAY that God will strike down entire countries or groups of people who we decide deserve to be sent to hell. I could add several links to professing Christians do so over and over again, but I won’t.  So I don’t think it is far fetched to imagine Jesus jumping off the cross and laying all those who persecuted Him flat on the ground and, truthfully, many of us would cheer and scream in joy had He done so.  In our natural core, we are often Zealots ready for blood.

But if Jesus really did react like that, He would be just like you and me.  He’d be walking in the natural.  He’d say “you treat me good, I treat you good.  You treat me bad, I treat you bad.”  He’d be no different or better than you, or me, or any of us who are nothing in our own power than natural thinkers and actors.

But in reality, Jesus walked or manifested Himself on “the Highway” or “the Kingdom Way”; even after ALL that had been done to Him, the humiliation and pain He went through despite His innocence, He called out to God and said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.”  They treated Jesus badly, and yet He returned good by not only asking for their forgiveness, but He gave an excuse for them!  The Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders hadn’t even ASKED for forgiveness – they had not repented for their actions – and yet Jesus asked for their forgiveness!  Yet we, as Christians, often condemn others and point out their sin, emphasize their sin actually, justifying why they do not deserve forgiveness and absolutely deserve no kindness, empathy, or love.

Even before His torture, when the Roman soldiers came to the Garden to arrest Jesus and Peter cut the ear off the soldier, Jesus did not return their bad with evil.  He didn’t say “You lost your ear because you meant to harm me with this arrest, so that’s what you get.”  No, He turned the bad to good by rebuking Peter and healing the soldier’s ear, without any price or request or demands from the soldier.  He returned bad with good.

The truth is, when the controversial subjects have arisen around me lately, I have picked up the sword like Peter and started swinging.  I felt just a justified in my actions as Peter did with his sword, as he lovingly and passionately protected the Lord he loved.  I can even claim my actions are for my Lord, the but truth is those actions have moved me far away from the actions of Jesus and have placed me right back into the natural.  I have put myself in a place of direct rebuke from Jesus, just as Peter was rebuked.  In fact, I and we project “the natural” too often onto the Kingdom thinking we are standing up for what we believe or what we feel is right and pound on our chests thinking we are defending our God, when in fact we are offending His sacrifice and everything He did for and to us.

And, let me be real about something else, too.  I often tell people, especially when I feel passionate about the Word or an idea related to Scripture, that the Bible is final.  And I pull out scriptures to prove my case and walk about like I am dropping the mic as if to say “BOOM, IN YOUR FACE.”  But sometimes quoting scripture is just more of the same natural manifestation that Christ has freed us from and which we keep picking up and tying around our ankles like a chain.  For example, the law was handed to Israel in Exodus 20 and then began to get more defined in Exodus 21  In fact, Exodus 21:24-25 (ESV) justifies through the law that I can and should manifest myself in the natural.  In fact, the law takes me to the place I usually live anyway (you do bad to me, I do bad to you):

 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

But I want to live in the principles of the Kingdom.  And it is amazing to go back to the Sermon on the Mount and hear Jesus say the following in Matthew 5:38-42 (ESV):

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

Jesus is quoting Exodus 21 and basically saying, “You got it wrong.  My plan for you was the Kingdom Way, NOT the natural way!”  He is showing us that we should ALWAYS return good no matter what is given to us, EVEN IF what is given to us is bad/mean/hurtful.  I mean really, someone sues us and we offer them more than what they asked for?????  Do not resist when we believe someone is being evil?????  Yes, that is the Kingdom way.

When we REST in Jesus Christ and stop trying to fulfill the law in which He’s already fulfilled and instead focus on loving others and not fighting others (being poor in spirit, not relying on ourselves, not fighting for God but walking WITH Him), we begin to allow Jesus through the Holy Spirit to guide us in His ways…..in the Kingdom Way.

So, as I think about Kim Davis and her actions, and more importantly myself and my reactions to situations such as her recent claim to fame, I also think on Matthew 10:11-13 (ESV) (emphasis mine):

And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 

This scripture brought it home to me, in relationship to all I’ve shared here.

  • Jesus died for me, providing His righteousness and power now, in His kingdom
  • The Kingdom is powerful and is here, close at hand, now
  • I am poor in spirit – I can’t get to the Kingdom Way/Highway on my own but Jesus can take me there once I admit I can’t do it with my own power or actions
  • He showed me my reaction can ALWAYS be good when I rest in Him and His love, even when others seem to be sending me bad things
  • Finally, I can always have Peace in my life.  Because, as Matthew 10 says, if I send out peace, then others can send me peace back (I am good to you, you are good to me)……but if I send out peace and it is not received, my peace through Jesus Christ comes back to me (I am good to you, no matter what you do the Peace comes back to me……because if you send me evil I will always return good through the love of Christ).  Either way I have Peace.  It isn’t about worthiness or unworthiness of others, it is about the Peace of Christ and its power above all things in the natural.

So, again I am sorry that I have been walking in the natural and feeling justified in doing so.  I thank God that He has reminded me that He has provided the means to get to the Kingdom Highway through His power and that if I rest in Him, He will keep me coasting on the Kingdom Way.

Peace.