Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Since we're all friends here right?

First I'd like to preface this post by saying I never meant to be wrong. I have been trying to be aligned with Christ since the first day I recognized his voice calling me from my despair. Jesus continues to work on me just like he works on you. I'm not making excuses just kind of a "positional statement", or nope, its an excuse.

Monday evening I started thinking about the AIDS epidemic and my position and the church's position and realized, to my horror that 1) I hadn't thought about it seriously in a long time (even though we pray daily for Pantso LeFatso whose family has been decimated by the virus)and 2) That I changed my position on it as it relates to the church. You see, much of what I've learned from people defined AIDS as God's consequences for promiscuity, homosexuality, and intravenous drug abuse. I hate that I had that position as much as Jesus does but we are called out to feed his sheep and well, what if we don't like sheep? What if we'd been told that sheep are bad and cattle is really where God wants us. Isn't it Christ's job to change our hearts? I rejoice again and again over this simple change in heart. I told myself it probably doesn't mean much more than an outward sign of an inward growth. When I got home I told my wife that my new thought on the AIDS epidemic is that if it is of God its only to separate the wheat from the chaff of the church by seeking those with compassion for those suffering from the societal implications of this runaway scourge. She said it was funny that I should say that because she was asked earlier that day to accompany a friend to get the results of her AIDS test because she didn't really know how it would come out and she needed someone to be there with her in case she was positive.

I'm sorry humanity for denying you my prayers and my compassion. I'll keep letting Jesus take the wheel and save you from me.


Jon said...

You have no idea how encouraging it is to read about these moments of 'eye-opening.' It's a fulfillment of Jesus' words in Matthew:

"The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

[Here's the good part:]

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

I am really enjoying reading your stuff, and hearing from you on my own blog.

Sam Clark said...

Thanks for your kind words Jon. I enjoy your posts and comments too. I have been reading and contemplating and praying quite a bit more than I ever have before and finally the Holy Spirit can make some noticeable progress in spite of me.

Peace and Adventure!

Todd Butler said...

I look at it like this Sam. Even if God did send AIDS as a punishment to those who were living in sin in reguards to sex and drugs. SO WHAT! That doesn't change what Christ has told us, no commanded us on love for one another. Far too often we get caught up in the "why's" when we shouldn't care so much about the "why" but more about the "who!"
Gregory Boyd explains it quite simply. It is God who determines judgment and punnishment. NOT US! So when we began passing judgment on others where is the LOVE that Christ is so passionate about. Not only that, but we start putting ourselves in a place that only God is qualified to be. As THE JUDGE.
It doesn't matter why some people are suffering. It very well could be due to sin. That doesn't change the fact that Christ COMMANDED us to LOVE one another evan as HE LOVED the church. Let us not forget that our sins were just as scarlet as anyone elses out there. Those who are suffering today are no more guilty than we were. I say this. Lets start showing them the same LOVE that Christ has shown us.
I can see the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit smiling now saying if we would all get the hang of this idea Christ started over 2000 years ago we could end so much suffering!
Feel free to post this if want to Sam. I know it may feel a bit strong, but this very thing is somthing the Lord has been doing a mighty work in me lately. It biblically sound and I know it is a valuable lesson for us all to try to master.
It is my prayer that we (as Christians) can learn to LOVE more and judge less.

Todd Butler

Steve Coan said...

Some friends were over the other night telling us about a gay rights group that made the rounds to all the Christian college campuses. Pretty militant group. They weren't looking to build any bridges either. So there's this one college in west Texas that decided to go a different way than all the other schools. They gave them a meeting place. Printed up nametags for all the participants. Fed them.

Some of these activists were moved to tears by the warm hospitality. It was a refreshing to me to hear about this. Frankly I was surprised that anyone this particular university would go this way. And yet...

There was still something missing from it. Or at least from what I heard. What I wanted to hear about was the church sitting in the audience for Q&A, asking questions. Questions like,

"How have we hurt you?"

"What do we do that makes you want to give up on Jesus and just act out?"

"What does Jesus mean to you, and how do you think we are misrepresenting him?"

"What would it take for you to have fellowship with us and to show us what it's like to search for life in Christ while struggling with same sex attractions?"

I honestly think we have lost something in the church. We somehow have gotten the idea that the weak learn about Jesus from the strong. But Paul, I think, thought otherwise when he wrote, "God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." It seems that the writers of the new testament believed that there was as much or maybe more to learn about Life from weaknesses, so Paul would "boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." For him, it seems it wasn't the reserved parking for being an apostle or an evangelist or a preacher that the house of faith was built on, but rather the hardships.

And I'm sure it is hard to be a homosexual, and hard to have AIDS. Especially if you would like to break through somehow to a relationship with Jesus. There are all kinds of barriers.

It's also been good for me to learn recently that to be poor in Jesus' time and that of the early church WAS to be judged by God. It was just understood by everyone that their poverty or their leprosy or their sicknes was proof positive that God had rejected them. Their poverty was God's judgment on them. Just like today AIDS is God's judgment on homosexuals.

This is why it was so bold and so infuriating to the classes when Jesus would associate with the poor and the marginalized. To them, Jesus was sanctioning their sins by eating with them.

But Jesus wasn't sanctioning their sins. He was doing something worse. He was forgiving them. Accepting them. And really, that bugged the powerful even more.

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. (Mark 9:1-8)

Or another...

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

The truth is that I learn a lot more about Jesus from forgiven sinners than righteous saints. My faith grows in the presence of strugglers than the fine. But unfortunately, you have to go outside the church walls to find strugglers anymore.

The earliest disciples got a different version. Theirs was straight from Jesus. It went, "Come, follow me." Before you have it figured out. Before you're fine.

From reading James 2, it seems like that version faded very quickly.

I hope to be somehow a part of a reclamation project. A movement that makes room again for objections and poverty and AIDS.

Sam Clark said...

Steve, Todd, Jon, as the children's song goes, "We are the Church". Todd, tell me about your ministry in Africa, when, what, where, etc.

I'm working on another post but it'll have to wait until lunch time.

Thanks for your input. I know through a friend how difficult it is to be delivered from homosexuality and I pray that in each of our lives we can be a catalyst for that "reclamation" project Steve speaks about.