This post appeared as a Grace Church Orlando blog post back in February. I wanted to publish it here as well. I hope you find it helpful.
Relinquishing My Role As The Holy Spirit
I had a dream last night that my wife, Leslie, and I were in a Life Group at church and a gay couple joined. The two men were friends of mine from 20 years ago and had since adopted children. They obviously knew me, how my story had evolved, and joined the group anyway. During the group one of the members awkwardly blurted out, “Alan, tell the group about your ministry.” I knew what the man was trying to do. He was reacting in a way that most evangelicals often do. We see a sinner and right away jump into “convert” mode with no thought of getting to know them or simply relating over common interests. Our default is to share our biblical conviction and immediately try to win them. We allow our performance-oriented Christianity to impact the way we interact with unbelievers. We approach them as projects to be managed and conquered instead of as people to be in relationship with. We are uncomfortable with what appears to be messy and challenging and want to put it in some religious order as soon as possible. We are ready for people modify their behavior before we have even introduced them to the One who died to change more than that behavior.
The question I ask myself a lot these days is, “What would Jesus do?” followed by, “What would He have me do?” They are not always one in the same. The fact is we are not Jesus. We have no power to heal or change anyone. We can point to His life and ministry through the Bible and our own experiences, but we aren’t Him. We are His representatives. Sometimes I think we are actually guilty of trying to be Him, or at least the Holy Spirit. It isn’t our job to bring conviction or judge. We fail to trust the Holy Spirit to do His job well when we attempt to usurp that role. So, in the context of a situation like the one in my dream, what are we to do?
Let me finish telling you my dream. When asked, I honestly cannot remember what I shared about my ministry. That wasn’t the point of the dream. I remember being uncomfortable with the direction of the “evangelism” and yet unwilling to be dishonest about my story. The group ended with all of us talking and planning for the next group. I made a point to talk with the gay couple and eagerly introduced our children to one another. I was thrilled they were there and encouraged them to come back. It wasn’t a dream about church leadership or ethics or anything like that. It was a dream about unlikely people deciding to join an unlikely church. I woke up inspired.
God isn’t grey and neither is His truth, but life is. People are. It’s not all neat and tidy outside the Church and we shouldn’t pretend like it is inside the Church, either. I want the church to be full of “pre-process”, “in-process” and “I don’t even know that there is a process” people. Messy people. People like you and me. People who need a Savior. What’s our answer for a gay couple that comes to church? The same answer that we have for anyone seeking Christ and community – you can find both here.
What if the best thing for a gay couple with children isn’t to immediately end their relationship and split their family and confuse their kids? Sometimes God’s plan for a messy situation is beyond our ability to understand and therefore we are simply to be on call for the time when He may choose to use us. Until that time, we love and serve the people He brings to us. Loving and serving might include honest conversations where you share your thoughts on sin. But, remember, you aren’t exempt from struggle or sin and honestly and humbly sharing that reality can go a long way in building trust and authenticity with those new to your community.