Back in 2007, while searching for the church to where the Lord would call me next, I was having a conversation with a Pastor of a church in Las Vegas who focused on God’s love for everybody (good, right?), but never even touched on discipleship and change in behavior (bad). For example, his Choir Director, who also preached and gave communion during Saturday evening services, was gay. But now, the point that I’m trying to get at is not the fact that a staff member of the church was gay (though I do disagree with that, too), but the fact that the testimony he gave included that: a) the church is the most welcoming one around, and b) that he’s accepted the way he is, not expecting to change (at all).
Also, the exiting intern mentioned in his Saturday night sermon that sexual orientation is irrelevant in the life of the Christian, for “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, for all are one in Christ.” (Galatians 3:28)…but in the context of the passage, Paul isn’t talking about gender inclusiveness, he’s talking about equal status within the Church and the Kingdom of God and not focusing on the Law of Moses for salvation. And the Pastor actually bases his incorrect theology of this on both this Galatians text, and Peter’s experience with the sheet in Acts 10, where God told him not to call anything unclean which He has made clean. (But this is about food, preparation for ministry to a gentile and his household, and ministering in the house of a Gentile, all of which were originally seen as forbidden — not about people’s cleanliness. Peter was so unwilling to eat anything unclean or associate with Gentiles that Jesus had to show it to him 3 times. For in order to even step into the house of a gentile, let alone eat and stay with one a few days, he’d have to first bump the mission of God up to first place, and bump eating rites and such down a notch).
So now, this Pastor is suggesting the opposite of what Paul’s saying in his other letters, such as in Colossians 3:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:11. For, instead of promoting transformation and holiness (purity; “putting to death” our worldly behaviors and clothing ourselves with those of God’s Spirit), the Pastor’s saying, “It’s OK to keep on sinning, for Christ loves you just the way you are.” And it wasn’t until his Sunday sermon that I realized what I was so strongly feeling…this is “Cheap Grace”!
Last I checked, love was a 2-way streak. In relationships, if you only expect something from the other, but don’t give anything, then that’s not love, that’s selfishness. Also, in relationships, we slowly become like the one we love. No, it’s not instant, but we want to please them by doing things and sometimes even changing things about ourselves that conflict with the behaviors of love for them. For example, we stop pursuing others; we may listen more in our communication and accept the possibility of being wrong…heck, I’ve seen friends sell their sports cars for minivans, SUVs, and other types of (often much slower and uglier) family cars when they have a baby; our behaviors, our jobs, our directions in life, all transform for the sake of our love for the other…we make sacrifices.
Jesus sacrificed His life for us, so therefore we also sacrifice our lives for Him. Jesus said that in order to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross‘, and follow Him. Detrich Bonhoeffer said that when Jesus calls us to Himself, He’s calling us to “come and die”. We give ourselves to Jesus as one gives him or herself in marriage. But if we continue in our sins, we’re not dying to sin, we’re continuing to live in that which we needed saving from. It’s like running back into a burning house just because you can.
So, as you can imagine, I turned down the possibility of serving there. Granted, I needed the job, the pay would’ve been good, my wife and I would have lived near family, and that town totally needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But serving under the leadership of a Sr. Pastor whose ministry and theology were borderline Unitarian would have definitely brought me to insanity.
No, I’m not willing to compromise Jesus’ Gospel for the sake of a nice paycheck (or anything else for that matter)…I was redeemed under Christ’s COSTLY grace. Jesus gave His life for me, and I gave my life to Jesus…it’s about sacrifice…it’s about REAL love.