Different Strokes – A La Carte

How do we navigate the tension between truth and grace when dealing with the issue of homosexuality?

DIFFERENT STROKES

Ours is a world of choices. Everything seems to have an option, including our understanding of sexual preferences and attractions  Now what we know is that there are 15 different forms of sexuality and the ones that top that list or what most of us are familiar with, is homosexuality which means, a person whose sexual preference is members of the same sex.

This is becoming a common topic in our city, for others it is right in our living rooms, with our siblings, our friends, with our children and with us. And the interesting thing is that the passion and rhetoric on every side of the issue is at an all-time high. It is hard not to have an opinion – most of us do – many are very passionate. Many want to know what the church’s stand on this issue is. What does the pastor have to say?

As a result there is such a great tension in society about this topic. This is a highly complex issue with multiple points of tension. Some Christians often want to violently impose their views, and punish perverts. Sometimes this tension breaks out into violence.

100%Truth and 100%Grace!

On the one hand you find those that are completely opposed. They say that it is sin and it should be condemned. It is not right, it is offensive to our culture. This is not the biblical way. #TeamTruth! And they are right. Then on the other side there are those who feel, that this is not just an agenda, this is not just an issue, these are people we are talking about, these are people like you and me that God loves and he desires to have a relationship with. #TeamGrace! And you know what, they are also right.

Even though both are right – there are tensions and inconsistencies which are there.   If #TeamTruth were to be honest with themselves, they will admit that there is something missing, yes I know what the truth is but… If you were to ask #TeamGrace they will say that yes these are people like you and me but… For many of us – it is a measure of truth and grace – we give a little here and a little there, different proportions 40-60, 50-50, 70-30 etc

When I look at the life of Jesus, I don’t think we can navigate this as Jesus would without tension. Even when you look at how Jesus dealt with people or how he loved them, it seems there is a great tension there. At times he seems to be forgiving and at times he wants to hold every one accountable. He seems to be kind at times but then harsh.

There is a tension right there, and all of us tend to lean on one of the directions. And here is what John says, I saw Jesus navigate the intricacies of very delicate situations and as I begin my description of how Jesus lived his life, here is what I saw, that he was absolutely full of both GRACE and TRUTH. John says that I watched Jesus and he was full to the brim of both Grace and Truth. This is our tension in the matter of sexuality – and the tough discussion about homosexuality.

It is a tough thing managing that tension between grace and truth. We go back to the book of John and look at a story that shows how Jesus balanced that tension between Grace and Truth. We look at a short story about Jesus and an adulteress. She would be the society’s equivalent of a homosexual who has come out of the closet, in our society today. Listen to what Jesus does, and says.

Our sermon text is John 8:2-12

So how do we navigate the intricacies of Homo sexuality? Lets talk about the truth first. We look at how Jesus dealt with someone who would have faced the same treatment as one would face today in our society if they came out – or were forcefully brought out of the closet.

100%Truth – God has a Standard, and its High

Team truth wants to see justice done. Sin must be punished, and punished well. One of the things that strikes me about this passage is what Jesus told the pharisees, and what did not tell them.

– First he said nothing

– Secondly he asked for the clean ones among them to be the first to administer justice.

Both of these are very significant. Jesus at first did not say anything. If you know Jesus, when he was asked a question that needed an answer – he gave an answer. He gave a story, a parable or even asked a rhetorical question. This is actually a rare occurrence. The only other time Jesus did not say anything was when he was before the authorities during his crucifixion.

Silence? Why was Jesus silent? Is it because he did not have anything to say? Is it that he did not have a comeback? Was he dumbfounded? No. I think his silence was in acknowledgement that the Pharisees were right. God does have a standard. God values righteousness. God grieves when we do not live up to his standard.  When you look at your own life, there are many things that you do that deserve punishment. If many could see into your life – they could say, and some do say, that you deserve to be punished. But I think that in his silence, Jesus acknowledges that there really is a standard.

Standards! When Jesus spoke he made a simple statement. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus was saying – there is a standard of sin. And if we are going to issue punishment then it goes across the board. The woman was an adulterer – and the other people were liars, gossipers, greedy people, proud, inconsistent, ungrateful, and ungodly and so on.

100%Grace – God has compassion, and it’s deep 

The people’s response said it all. We are broken. We are messed up at our core. Nothing about us is exactly as God wants it to be. What the people show me, is that deep inside I, together with all others have issues. I am not ok. How then must we respond since we are wrong? Look at what Jesus does.

After the questions, that last sentence Jesus spoke to the woman he showed 100%Truth100%Grace. John had said that Jesus is full of Grace and Truth. This is one perfect example of how Jesus navigated the tension. And it applies to this conversation on homosexuality.

100% Grace and Forgiveness: I do not condemn you – Jesus offered the forgiveness that only God can give. This is the same forgiveness that is offered for anyone, gay or straight who realizes that they have not lived up to God’s high standard.

100% Truth and Transformation: Go and sin no more – Jesus acknowledged that there was sin in the woman’s life that she must start to deal with. This is the instruction that God gives everyone, gay or straight whose lifestyle is not in line with God’s intention. We are all broken. So broken that we can’t exclusively do what feels right, or even what seems natural to us. This is for all of us prone toward sin.

It seems natural to gossip. It seems natural to have sex with a woman that’s not your wife. It seems natural to drink and get drunk or to look at porn. It seems natural to be condescending to others. It seems natural to be attracted to people of the same sex. All of these are choices that are available to us, but that are not God’s way for us. We should not judge others as worse than us. (Even if that judging is natural to us.) Jesus said it “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Some conclusions;

God asks those with gay orientation to acknowledge that homosexuality is a result of living in a broken world (not the way God designed). It is a sin. He asks you to make a decision to curb sexual activity. Does it create tension? Yes it does! In many ways. Will you agree to live in that tension?

God asks people with gay family members or gay friends to love them with the love of Christ. To reach out to them  – even if you don’t agree with their lifestyle. Does it create tension?  Yes it does! In many ways. Will you live in it?

God asks churches if they are willing to pursue anyone struggling with gender identity and same sex attraction – the same way as anyone else who needs Jesus. The greatest tragedy is not that someone lived a gay lifestyle, it is that person would die apart from Christ. Does it create tension?  Yes it does! In many ways. Will you live in it?

God asks us to lead in relationship and then discuss the truth. The goal is not first and foremost to help a gay person become straight or to not have same-sex sex, but to come to Christ for salvation. Does it create tension?  Yes it does! In many ways. Will you live in it?

God asks churches to navigate the muddy waters of accepting gay believers into their church (just as you would accept greedy believers or materialistic believers). Does it create tension?  Yes it does! In many ways. Will we live in it?

Much more important than the issue of becoming straight is the issue of coming to Jesus. Our priority as a church is to help you find your way back to God. Your moral, sexual issue, just like my issues becomes secondary.

Useful sites/links

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/june-web-only/why-matthew-vines-is-wrong-about-bible-same-sex-relationshi.html

http://www.restoredhopenetwork.com/

http://desertstream.org/living-waters/

Follow us on Twitter & Facebook. We stream the sermon LIVE every Sunday 9AM GMT+3 here, bookmark and tune in. Sermon videos are usually uploaded to our YouTube channel

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Different Strokes – A La Carte”

  1. God's Grace Says:

    It seems so easy to insinuate Sexuality as choice. But as a people we need to stick to #TeamGrace and acquire #TeamFaith and also embrace the gifts of evolving Human consciousness which is actually God’s gift to us. In this gift of consciousness, you realise that It is God’s love that persists to the end. That’s why Jesus only left us with two simple greatest commandments.These commandments are very transcending! They transcend facts or truth etc. The rest in the bible, as truthful as it is, is really fluff in comparison to the importance of Love.
    That Bible condemns sexuality just as it condemns wearing a polyester and a cotton blend of fabrics and very much allows slavery. It’s how a lot of whites took advantage of black people centuries ago by telling them the bible was saying the truth about slaves,as a result further discriminating blacks not deserving a life of human dignity. It took evolving consciousness to acquire freedom, dignity and more.
    Even as God is the same, I personally experience God in a new light, as I challenge my thoughts and standpoints in life. God has helped me so much, helped me recover from a very dark, undeserving place and is growing me strength to strength everyday.
    We cannot be discriminating against others yet we hardly understand what they go through, In fact we should accept and love them as they are the way God does everyday with us. Now that’s a fact of life. Much better than pointing out each others’ flaws in situations.

    Like

  2. Hi ,I like the title and the context which the scripture was taken from but there three characters ,The pharisee ,Woman and Jesus .To the pharisee the were told not to judge cause they were not perfect .To the woman no one condemns you but go and sin no more. The sermon was more focused on us extending grace to lgbt community but the truth is homosexuality is sin just like pornography ,masturbation ,sexual immorality let this be clear like paul said those who do such will not inherit the kingdom of God.Let not sugar coat .It is the truth that sets us free and leads to conviction through the power of the Holy Spirit . Let it not also be like one time message .There is a need to have structure in church where people can go confess and find accountability partners .I find this silent in this sermon.Who will people go to

    Like

  3. This sermon was very captivating and real. I agree there is every need to extend grace as much as we want to identify with biblical truths and no one should be judged of discriminated on the basis of their past.
    However, you have totally lost me though Pastor Kiama in your closing remarks, “God asks churches to navigate the muddy waters of accepting gay believers into their churches… ”. ??? By saying so your sermon falls short of being termed as yet another clamor for LGBT rights, now inside church, activism to say the least.
    First, where in scripture do we find believers being identified by their sins or struggles? i.e. A gay believer, an alcoholic believer, an pedophile believer.. etc ?
    Second, where do we find this express call from God. In what portion of scripture?
    Once you come to Christ the bible teaches that we are a new creature and the old is gone and behold the new is come ( 2 Cor 5.17). We cannot therefore continue saying we are what we were before salvation. Even much less so pitifully demand recognition. A believer who has met the Lord is sorry for their past and ashamed of their sins. They want to distance themselves from anything that falls short of the high standard of God. So why would you ask that we single out the gays, how special are they from the rest of the sinners.
    Picture with me this scenario. On a warm and lively Saturday morning a group of inner circle Mavuno faithfuls are gathered in church for the weekly bible fellowship. They share tea and snacks as their late compatriots trickle in. As the very last walk in, Viny the group leader taps on his wine glass and brings the group to order amidst hushed tones. As he clears his throat to speak, across the room he notices a few new faces and instinctively decides that everyone should introduce themselves, each person specifying their struggle. He goes first. “Hello, wasup peeps, thanks for coming, today we gonna have fun in the Lord!”
    An affirmative amen spills from the group.
    “Er.. for the sake of our first timers I’m Viny, an alcoholic and I love Jesus..” The rest of the group members each take a turn to introduce themselves.
    Seated next, Mike spats, “I’m Mike and I am thief and I love Jesus..!”
    “My name is Cindy and I’m a pedophile, young boys are my struggle…!”
    “Anto is my name and I am a rapist, a serial rapist..!”
    Just when the drama seems at its peak, Josh, a first timer, roars out ” My name is Josh I am gay and this is my boyfriend Sam, and we love the Lord”. At this point a cold breeze of awkwardness and weirdness sweeps across the room just in time for Eve to gather herself and squeak in her sharp soprano, ” My name is Eve, I love Porn and I love Jesus.”
    One would be forgiven to think this scene unfolds in a Mexican jail and never at a church fellowship of inner circle faithfuls.
    I say so because the peculiar issue with this church is not their struggles because yes we all are imperfect, but the manner I which they seem to embrace their imperfection and struggles. By openly identifying with their struggles (sins) they presumably promote the same.
    Yet isn’t that what you are asking the church to do when you argue that we should accept our “gay believers”.
    By emphasizing on grace alone and failing to equally emphasize Gods high standard you fail to do the sermon justice.
    I close by reading from Romans 6.
    *1* What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
    *2* God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
    *3* Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
    *4* Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    *5* For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
    *6* Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
    *7* For he that is dead is freed from sin.
    *8* Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
    *9* Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
    *10* For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
    *11* Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    *12* Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
    *13* Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
    *14* For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
    *15* What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
    *16* Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
    *17* But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
    *18* Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
    *19* I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
    *20* For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
    *21* What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
    *22* But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
    *23* For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

    Liked by 1 person

    • and that people is why the church will always tend to hurt the people whom it purports to reach out to.

      MD I like your lengthy comment, but your bible which you quote so proudly says you shouldn’t wear mixed fabrics (Deuteronomy 22:11)…I just wonder when you were writing this what type of garments were you wearing? Were they pure wool or linen?

      Ever believer has a past and probably still a past-present struggle. I would rather fellowship / hang-out in a place where people are real with their issues. I am an alcoholic and I love Jesus, so what? I am gay and I love Jesus, so what MD?

      Excuse me MD, you are not the standard, God is…get it?

      Like

  4. You miss the point Kimani!
    Far be it from me that I should ever purport to be the standard. I am just as in need of his saving grace and have my own very real struggles. Similarly I would never condemn any Christian for their past or present struggles.
    Also agreed is that God is the standard and will always be the standard, not us and certainly not the world. But if I am then going to be genuine to that creed, then God is elevated far above my imperfection and struggles. And for the Love, Awe and Fear of God I will strive to live by his high standard while distancing myself from anything (sin) that will otherwise make his saving grace futile. (Rom6)
    What I disagree with is when we elevate our struggles to extent that they seemingly overshadow Gods saving grace. When you boldly and openly refer to one as a “gay believer”, the obvious thing you are doing is enjoining the gay lifestyle to salvation. The notion that you can love Jesus but still live by your old ways is not scriptural and it distorts the whole message of salvation. That’s my point.

    Like

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: