Last week was a long one. A good one with the kids. A good week getting to know more about the Mennonite church. A good week watching God come to people in all different ways.
But when I look back on the week, one big thing stands out.
It was my second convention and second time experiencing the group called Pink Menno. Last convention it felt like an outside group, trying to get in. This time it felt more like an integrated part of the group, slowly becoming part of the whole. That felt right.
I know it’s a hot button issue within the church. I know it starts chasms that cannot be repaired. I know it is an issue that is easier to deal with only when it hits us over the head. But there is something in me that can no longer pretend I am just an outsider. This is my church. This is my issue.
I am not here to give all the reasons why you should interpret scripture this way or that. Other folks are much better at that. I am speaking up because I believe it is right. I am speaking up because of the love God created in me. The same God who created you. The same God who created us all.
I was in a conversation room this past week on the church and sexual orientation. The group I was in had some good things to say. We were all very alike, just trying to figure out how Christ would love and how we should love- especially when it comes to church and those that are gay, lesbian or queer. And while it was interesting to hear what others had to say, what I noticed was a shift in my heart. A shift in my thinking. I had not realized before that what so many LBGTQ people just want is just to be official members of their church. They are not allowed to be members in many churches because we interpret scripture differently than they do. Because we were created differently than they were. So I started thinking, wow, how is this different from so many other issues within the body of Christ that we interpret differently?
Money. That’s a biggie. We all have convictions and they are all over the place. Some read scripture and believe that they should not own anything. Materialism is sin. How they spend their money really matters. So, for some, owning a house with a pool may be sinful, that is their conviction. For some, owning a luxurious boat would be a waste when people are starving, again, a sin. But for others, this is not an issue. They find God in sharing their possesions with others. It gives them life to share their home, their pool, with all friends and all people. They find God on the water and their boat is a place of rest. They do not view this as a sin. Scripture is not speaking to us in the same way. BUT, both of these people are allowed to be members of the same church. They may not see things in the same way. For one, something is a sin. For another it is not. They may NEVER agree. But that is no reason to keep them from being MEMBERS of the same church.
This applies to so much more than money..
etc, etc, etc
That’s the shift.
You may see homosexuality as wrong. But, your brother may not interpret it the same way. Rachel Held Evans talks about this in a recent blog post titled “Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony.” This is a small exerpt- I highly recommend reading the whole post. SO worth your time. In this she talks about how we pick and choose the things we want to leave gray, yet use other verses to make our point- usually about an issue that doesn’t effect us. Or -verses that won’t require much sacrifice on our part.
“It’s hard to “other” the people we know and love the most. It’s become a cliché, but everything changes when it’s your brother or sister who gets divorced, when it’s your son or daughter who is gay, when it’s your best friend who struggles with addiction, when it’s your husband or wife asking some good questions about Christianity you never thought about before. Our relationships have a tendency to destroy our categories, to melt black and white into gray, and I don’t think God is disappointed or threatened by this. I think God expects it. It happened to Peter when he encountered Corneilus and Philip when he encountered the Ehtiopian eunuch. Suddenly it became a lot harder to label your friends “unclean” or “unworthy.”
Last week I read this article and then watched this video. I could not stop thinking about it. I could only think “what if this was my child?” Please take a moment to read the article- click on the link. Then watch the video.
My heart broke for Ryan. My heart broke for the Robertson family.
My heart broke for the church.
My intent is not to offend, but I know it may. My intent is not to go against things my parents taught me, but this may make them uncomfortable as well. (Sorry Dad and Mom, I love you!!) My intent is to share how God has been moving in me, through groups like Pink Menno. Through people like the Robertson family. Through people like Rachel Held Evans. Just people trying to live out their faith and be true to the convictions God has placed within them. Just people living out their faith and being true to the person they are. I no longer believe that we all have to understand everything in the same way to be the Body of Christ. Or, to be members of the same church.
God loves us all. We understand God in so many different ways. We are all in this together.
Let’s listen to one another. Every person’s story is important in the Kingdom of God.
Right here. Right now.
*For those who don’t know me, I’m the Mennonite with the pool. Feel free to drop by for a swim!