Grace for All

I live in Nebraska, a very Red state. So I really shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that our state unicameral stopped a filibuster on Monday that effectively killed a bill that would’ve made discrimination based on sexual preference or gender identity illegal.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that our government will do what it’s going to do, and we often can’t control the outcomes. But what I can’t tolerate is that the state senators who opposed this bill were – in a large way – influenced by conservative Christians who believed that this legislation takes things too far.

And how do I know this? From all the cheering I’ve seen in Jesus’ name that this bill was stopped from going any further.

What happened to “love your neighbor as yourself”?

Did we forget that whatever we do to “the least of these my brothers, [we] do to [Christ]”?

Have we abandoned the call to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving in the same way Christ was to us?

It sure looks that way.

I have yet to hear a compelling argument for the “Christian” stance of limiting and marginalizing the people we live and work alongside. It’s disgusting and my patience with my brothers and sisters is wearing thin.

We seem so desperate to not have the appearance of evil that we swing too far in the other direction, leaving others alone and wanting. Which is more evil: standing alongside someone who lives a lifestyle we disagree with or judging that same person to such a degree that they’re marginalized and made lesser in the eyes of others (and the law)?

We’ve abandoned the Gospel of the Lord for the politics of man. We’ve given up taking care of certain people because we’re afraid.

We’d rather be comfortable than obedient.

Often I hear comparisons drawn to the story of the adulterous woman, as depicted in John 8. Some people effectively say, “But Jesus told the woman to sin no more.” But as a pastor friend of mine recently pointed out, what Jesus did first was protect her from those who wanted to inflict their deadly justice.

What a great idea! Why aren’t we all doing that?

I really can’t answer that, but here’s where I think the church can make a huge difference: stand for the person who’s hurt or could potentially be hurt. Come alongside them, tell them they’re of value in the kingdom, and remind them that God loves them. I don’t think we can fathom the difference it would make.

But failing to act can have its consequences too.

The second we stop standing for everyone, we begin standing against someone.

Isn’t it ironic that the people in John 8 who wanted the woman stoned were the religious elite of the day? The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?

As the church (the ekklesia), we should be ashamed of ourselves. When will we wake up and realize the kind of message we’re sending not only to the LGBT community but to everyone who may be in need?

So it should come as no surprise that the next generation is fleeing the church at record rates: we’re hypocrites and we finally have a generation not willing to go along with something for the sake of decorum. Instead, they’re bravely saying, “No, I can’t be a part of such nonsense.”

Good for them. We deserve it. We’ve screwed up and it’s time someone called us out on it.

Our heavy-handed influence in politics has built a monster that will only be brought down through starvation. A starvation of money that feeds the institutions that deal in this insanity and a starvation of workers willing to deal in the type judgmental behavior that has all but told certain people – such as, but not limited to, those in the LGBT community – they are worthless, unwelcome, and fit more for hell than God’s grace.

My heart has been breaking during the past few weeks. Between the failure of this proposed bill and the World Vision fiasco, I see example after example of how we aren’t standing for everyone and we’re more than willing to take down ANYONE who doesn’t fit our definition of orthodoxy.

But…

I have to keep an attitude of grace. Grace towards the people who exclude. Grace for those who use scripture to abuse instead of heal. Grace in the midst of the ugliness that too often rears its head in this world.

We are ALL sinners. We have ALL fallen short. But we have an advocate.

Everyone can have that advocate, regardless of who they are. We definitely aren’t worthy, but we’re all being offered grace.

And we have to tell the world about it.

But first, we have to live it.

We must do a better job at getting the word out about that grace. But it can’t happen until ALL people know that they’re safe with us.

God is for everyone. Grace is for everyone.