Judge Not

Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”                                                       Mark 2:15-17
 
I’m going to riff off of what Pastor Ray preached on Sunday morning, even down to the scripture reference. His words moved me to tears (as they pretty much do every Sunday, in a really good way), as I thought about the two individuals in the scenarios Ray painted as he talked. My teary thoughts led me to recall a story I’d read on Facebook about an Austin church who had attended a Gay Pride parade earlier this year and offered all types of free hugs: mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and pastor. These church people hugged strangers like they were their own children and grandchildren. The members of the LGBTQ community who partook of these hugs were hungry for the love this church gave to them, for many longed for the touch that spoke volumes and gave them unconditional love and support that some of them lacked from their own families. (I’m crying rereading the article right now). I then started thinking about an episode of “Queer Eye” I watched earlier this year (for the uninitiated: it’s a remake of a show in the 1990s in which five homosexual men makeover someone, in the areas of teaching the guy who to improve his cooking, decorating, personal hygiene, wardrobe, and his overall interaction with people). This episode had the “Fab 5” (as they call themselves) visiting a young man and his mother in Georgia. She was a very involved church member; her son was gay. They were to meet the mother in a church, and one of the five couldn’t bring himself to enter it. He shared with the camera that he’d grown up in the church and was ostracized when he came out. He was so hurt by that act that he physically could not go inside a church. Needless to say, I sobbed watching that episode (on a positive note, he and the young man’s mother talked, her giving personality accepting and loving him. A good amount of healing seemed to occur).
 
Now, for those who know me, you know that I am a peacemaker and a people pleaser. I would rather crawl on broken glass and pour lemon juice on the cuts before I’d offend or hurt anyone. It’s who I am, and I certainly do not intend to offend you with what I am writing. I’m not trying to be political or controversial; I’m not trying to stir up any drama or start any fights or discussions about church politics and stances and the like. All I am trying to do is to extend Pastor Ray’s sermon a little bit more, and remind folks that we as a church need to focus more on the things that we are for rather than on the things we are against. Jesus didn’t die on the cross only for those who look like us, or act like us, or belong to our socioeconomic class. No, friends, He died on the cross for us all. He took on the punishment for our sin. Sin comes in differing degrees, but it is still sin nonetheless, and it is enmity to God. We all sin differently and none of us deserves His grace. Given that we have received it though, don’t you think we should share it? Don’t you think we should ensure that others know about this wonderful gift that we have? As Ray shared, we need to take His love out into the world, and additionally, we need to be open and loving to those He will bring to our His church.

 

Prayer Requests

  • For those who are facing health challenges—may you feel the comfort and support of the One Who created you.
  • For the family and friends of those who are facing health challenges
  • For our country, especially as we get closer to mid-term elections
  • For victims of mass shootings and hatred

  I’ve missed writing these devotionals, and I’m glad to be back. Thank you for letting me share the burdens of my heart with you tonight.  

Quotes

“Jesus leaving the 99 to find the 1 seems illogical, irrational, and senseless—until that 1 is you.”
 
“Don’t underestimate what God is doing in your season of waiting.”