“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
I was standing in line recently, waiting to purchase items from a major department store. So many things were running through mind – family concerns and planning an upcoming weekend trip. Add to that, the transaction in front of me was taking a long time and I was in danger of returning to work late from lunch. Nevertheless, when it was my time to be served, I walked to the counter and engaged the salesperson in friendly conversation. As we were ending the transaction, she said sincerely, “It is so nice to have a smiling customer. Thank you.”
I have worked retail in the past for the same department store chain. I know that although the merchandise the chain sells is considered upscale, oftentimes the attitudes of the customers who patronize it aren’t. Many people can be incredibly rude to those they deem servants. So, I try to take the time to be patient and considerate to someone who may have been on his or her feet for hours at a time with no break.
As Christians, we should not blend in with the crowd and adapt the attitudes of those around us. Our light should shine for others to see. It should be apparent that we are set apart. Not better than, but filled with a spirit of love that makes us glow. You may never know how much the simplest act of kindness – a smile – can uplift someone else’s day. Go ahead and try it. It costs nothing, but there is much to gain.
Sometimes you have to take stances that go against common trends and mindsets. This post definitely goes against one growing trend – the acceptance of homosexuality. This is not a rant against homosexuals; rather it is a reminder to Christians who believe there is nothing wrong with homosexuality that they are in direct opposition to the word of God. For those unfamiliar with the Bible and insist it does not specifically address homosexuality, please read Leviticus 18:22: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” It is listed among several other sexual acts Gods declares detestable. In Leviticus 20:13, we discover the punishment for the act: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Is this a call to gather those who engage in homosexual acts and put them to death? Of course not, modern society is radically different from the times this edict was issued. I would also never place a call to kill those who have committed the sins of adultery, fornication, envy or bearing false witness. That would wipe out most of civilization, including myself. We all sin, but it doesn’t make it right because everyone does it. Thankfully, we serve a forgiving God who accepts sincere repentance. We serve a God who took human form, bore our sins and, because of His death and resurrection, allows us to live in His grace. While Jesus exhibited unprecedented compassion for all sinners during his time on earth, he did tell his followers this, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” and, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:17, 19.
So, as Christians, we cannot conform to society’s growing tolerance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. While we cannot bend, we shouldn’t shut out those homosexuals who seek the truth and a sincere relationship with God. Our example is with Jesus who, after being criticized by the Pharisees for eating with tax collectors and sinners explained, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But, go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” Matthew 9: 12-13. This is “loving the sinner and not the sin”.
Free will allows us to believe in God. That same free will allows others to not believe in Him. If you believe in and love God, then His commands should be etched in your heart. God’s Word is unchanging in the face of the world’s ever changing views and morals.
Recently, Gov. Rick Perry, R – Texas, hosted a day of fasting and prayer in my hometown of Houston. The governor asked those in attendance to pray for America and her leaders.
I am a less than silent supporter of President Barack Obama however, lately, I have become disappointed in his and the other elected officials’ inability to govern this country effectively. The Oval Office, Congress and Senate are beginning to resemble one big schoolyard with bullies on each side playing Dodgeball with bricks and waiting for the other side to “blink first”. I am an unabashed proponent of praying. Praying for our leaders can never hurt but only help them to thoughtfully, selflessly and wisely author and pass laws that add to the well-being of America and the world. I fully supported Perry in this endeavor, but I am not naïve. I understand his day of prayer was inspired by his interest in pursuing a run for the presidency. However, I would never doubt Perry’s sincerity. I’d like to believe it was a mostly genuine effort.
As with anything that mixes religion and politics, there was controversy. Picketers protested the event. There were, of course, the atheists. There were those who strongly believe in separation of church and state. There was also a young man representing the GLBT community. I remember him because he said something that stuck with me. When interviewed by a local news reporter he cited one of the reasons why he was protesting was that he didn’t think those in attendance would accept him.
I can’t pretend that there aren’t judgmental Christians or that there haven’t been many who have used the Word to further their own selfish agendas. Jesus addressed these types of individuals in Matthew 23. Men are imperfect; that is why our faith should never be placed in man but only in God. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Ps 91:2, NIV.
Sadly, there may have been some truth in the young man’s comment. However, acceptance by man should never be a Christian’s goal. Christians should never attempt to be people-pleasers. Our goal is acceptance from God. Our mission is to conduct ourselves in a way that pleases God and draws others to Him. I can only pray that one day that young man will read the Bible for his own salvation and see that God loves him. Hopefully, after realizing that God’s love is unconditional, he will lose the apprehension he feels and enter a house of worship. Unfortunately, there will always be those who judge and those who use the Bible to condemn other groups. But in his reading, the young man would understand that God is love. And when he feels rejected by any organization he will remember Heb 13:6: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
That is something all Christians should remember, whether it’s facing our own difficult circumstances or standing up for what is right in the sight of the Lord. Let’s work on our attitudes to prevent people like the young protestor from feeling as if Christianity is out of their grasps. Remember, our job is to bring people closer to God, not push them away.