Am I one to talk?
So, a little while ago, I posted this picture on my Instagram and Facebook. If you can’t see it, it’s a billboard that I saw in Chicago that shows a woman smiling, with the caption, “I’m DOING it – Testing for HIV”. Now, I understand that they’re promoting HIV testing among the African American population, which is large in that area, but the thought that came to my mind when I saw that, especially for how they did the caption, was, “But you wouldn’t have to get tested if you weren’t ‘doing it’.”
Well, needless to say (since we’re talking about posting something on Facebook), one of my friends, responded, “It’s unrealistic to expect people not to have sex before they are married.”
Now, understand, this friend of mine grew up in a very strong Christian home, knew the Lord growing up, used to preach Christ to his friends and anybody with whom he’d come into contact, used to be really excited about Jesus, and had actually written a song in his teens about how premarital sex can in fact lead to getting AIDS and dying from it. So I called him out on it (the song part), where he in return responded, “Yes, but I was a teenager who grew up in a Christian home. I didn’t know anything else. Are you one to talk?”
Am I one to talk? Good question. And yeah, it took me some time to think about how to respond to this, because yeah, I’m really not one to talk, for all throughout high school (once turning 15) and all throughout college, I had a lot of sex, and a lot of sexual partners (I mean, heck, I believed that sex would lead to love (link will lead you to what I believe now), and so as one who longed to have a loving girlfriend and future wife, I had a lot of sex with hopes of it turning into love, only to find it instead pulled me deeper into emptiness – just the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish). And even though I gave my life over to Jesus at the age of 21, it was still a long while before I’d plugged into a church or gathered with any Christian fellowship, so there wasn’t really anybody (other than the Bible and sermons on the radio) mentoring or discipling me in terms of sexual sin. I mean, yeah, I had a mentor in the sense of reading and understanding the Bible, but that was more occasional. And yeah, Jesus was showing Himself to me as I read through His Word, but for some reason, it wasn’t until a couple years later when a girl that I’d been trying to “pick up” said to me “You’re a Christian. Christian’s don’t do that,” that I realized that sex outside of marriage was even a sin. Heck, even when I’d just begun seminary, I didn’t realize that even just the stuff I was doing with my girlfriend at that time was wrong (sinful) until God revealed it to me during a class lecture. After that, I began learning about, setting up, and keeping healthy boundaries so as to avoid what we’d been doing (and yes, I even got an HIV test), but yeah, am I one to talk?
But you know, one of the things about being (or having been) a Pastor/minister for Jesus is that, unlike many (or many others with whom I’d attended seminary, anyway), I can honestly say that I have been where many of them have never been, and known many people that would never have originally dared to set foot in a (or their) church. “Outcasts”, as they’re called, have often been drawn to me, and I can only figure that’s because such is what I’ve always been, also. The people I witness to, I can often relate to. Many of the sins I caution people about, I do so because I know the dangers from my own past experience–I’ve been there. I know what many are going through, I’ve been rescued from them by Jesus Christ, and in response, I want to (and have been called to) educate and help others realize the dangers of such also, and to introduce them to Jesus Christ so they too may be rescued from them. So am I one to talk? Yeah, I am, and I’d better be — though not as one who acts like he’s “holier than thou”, but as one who can honestly say, “Man, I’ve struggled with that, too. I know exactly what you’re talking about”, or “yeah, I know somebody who’s struggled with that, but they’ve since found hope, forgiveness, and healing in Christ Jesus…”.
That’s the thing about being a Christian though, too, for many of us have been there, and such is the reason we realized our need for Jesus in the first place. Because unlike that saying, “God helps those who help themselves” (which is actually a quote taken from Aesop’s fable about Hercules and the Wagoneer, not from the Bible), God helps exactly those people – those of us who realize we can’t do it ourselves, and thus need a Savior — THE Savior who already did it all for us, and in whom we just need to put our trust and faith into if we’re to be rescued from it all. Our process of healing and transformation may take a little while (for it can be a process), but God’s process of forgiveness is instant.
“Man, I’ve been there, I totally get what you’re saying. And if I haven’t or don’t, then I probably know somebody who has that I could share with you about. If you’ll share with me about your struggles and experiences, I’d love to share with you about my reason for hope, but not as somebody who’s never been there, but as somebody who probably has. So let’s talk.”