My brother Noel recently expressed his concern for me.
Tread lightly if befriending those who will agree with you, based only on their need to be comforted and befriended, versus a true hunger for the truth of the gospel. This befriending and adoration though satisfying to the flesh is temporal and emotional at best. These are the the very same people who in one moment will roll out the red carpet until you preach the “Whole Gospel” and thus coming to fully understand your mission. They will turn on a dime and call for you to be crucified with your blood on their children and their children’s children. Unless we preach and teach the whole gospel, we are hiding the light under a bushel and our saltiness has lost it’s savor.
Noel, I’ve already undergone what felt like “organizational crucifixions” over this issue three times in the last few years–once in a secular LGBT organization, once in an LGBT-supportive Christian organization, and most recently in my own church.
I am preaching part of the gospel that you and your Christian friends neglect. I am called to a prophetic ministry to my own Christian community–my tribe, the people among whom I was born. I stand against thoughtless shepherds, against conservatives in search of scapegoats, and against Christian officials who yield to the most ignorant and bigoted voices in their organizations.
If you are not thoughtless, in search of scapegoats, or yield to the ignorant and bigoted, then these descriptions don’t apply to you. Relax, don’t get defensive and in a huff. But you do know that the descriptions do apply to some people.
Called to be salt? You better believe it! I leave a taste in the mouth of every conservative Christian on the net who engages me on the topic of a Christ-like love and acceptance for gays and lesbians. I don’t reinforce their ignorant prejudices. And yes, they are ignorant, ignorant of Christ’s acceptance of gays and lesbians, ignorant of the spiritual lives of Christian gays and lesbians, ignorant of their own ignorance. I have not lost my saltiness.
Called to be light? Oh yes! But you and I don’t shine the identical light. The light is the light of Christ, but it is filtered through different personalities, different life experiences, and shines in different places, illuminating different problems.
You shine your little light, and I’ll shine my little light. Yes, there’s darkness, but there are different kinds of darkness. You shine in the darkness you see, and I’ll shine in the darkness I see.
You preach and teach the gospel according to your best lights, And I’ll model and teach the messages of Jesus according to mine. Christians don’t have to all believe and teach the same message to be virtuous or acceptable to God. Period.
I have previously written to you at length about the diversity of gifts and callings, that not all people are called to the same ministry. Please stop assuming, even insisting, that I must act in accordance with your sense of calling to evangelism and ministry. I am not you, you are not me.
I think I have explained how, where, and by whom I’ve been crucified–all for being salt and light–but you may not remember.
I know you are expressing your concern, but consider expressing this concern for people closer to home who need it. My children are all grown adults, but some of yours are still in the nest. Are you prepared to love and support them no matter what kinds of adults they turn out to be?
I am doing what God has gifted, equipped, and prepared me to do, and I plan to continue doing it as long as I have the strength and the faculties.
And if your gifts, equipping, and preparation mean that you will continue trying to keep me on the straight and narrow as you understand it, preaching a gospel message that they preach in your circles–oh well, I guess I’ll just have to bear with you!