Good day, friends. Thank you for joining me for this fifth and final blog of a series I’ve written on homosexuality and Christianity. My mission has been to provide scriptural references and assurances for any Christians out there who are currently struggling with how to love their gay children, transgender neighbors or anyone within the LGBTQ community.
The good news is (unlike the common misconception) we simply do not have to bear the burden of trying to initiate change through rebuke or correction in the lives of this beloved community. Nor do we have to miss milestones such as engagement parties, weddings or housewarmings… because I believe the greater truth of the gospel proves that we accomplish so much more by showing up with love and compassion, exercising restraint and grace, than we ever could by rejections that isolate, evoke anger or shame, and tear down relationships.
The desire to “fit in” or “be accepted” is fundamental to the human experience. According to God’s plan we were created to be a small part of a bigger whole… the kingdom of God. But when Christians take action to reject “the sin” of a homosexual, what we may not realize is that by doing so, we are still rejecting the person… thus inadvertently sending a message that they, flawed as they may be, are not welcome within our (also flawed) lives, the church, or the kingdom at large. Friends, we simply have to stop making this fatal mistake because we’re sending a message that is simply not true. Because if we look to the Word, we can see that Jesus never prevented anyone from going to His Father’s temple, or from seeking Him.
With that, I’d like to explore what scripture reveals to us through the study of the healing Jesus performed at the pool of Bethesda.
“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 1. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, 2. he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 3. Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 4. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, 5.“See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.””– John 5:2-14 ESV
I believe there are five critical aspects of this scripture that, for the sake of our purpose, needs to be addressed and understood (as numbered above).
1. Transformation takes time… sometimes a long time.
It’s so easy for us Christians to say that God’s timing is perfect, but the next second assign our own timetable to an outcome. In this passage the man had suffered the price of living a sinful existence for 38 years before he had an encounter with Jesus that changed everything. So let’s get busy introducing everyone we know to Jesus, including those in the LGBTQ community. Because the truth is… there are thousands of people (both gay and straight) that, like this man, are suffering through life without Him.
2. Transformation requires the desire to be changed.
In a nutshell, all change requires desire. If a homosexual isn’t ready to make a lifestyle change, no human is capable of changing that… only Jesus. In this passage the man had to be willing to do the work… to exert the effort… to prove he wanted it. He had to physically get up and walk (himself), as opposed to being carried. He had to pick up his own mat. And, as is often common with God, Jesus rewarded the man’s act of faith and obedience with the ability to do the one thing he was never before able to do himself… the ability to get up and walk away from a disastrous circumstance that had for so long defined and restricted him.
3. Transformation requires the empowerment of Jesus.
Any time any human being breaks away from the bondage of sin, it’s a miracle. It is a lame man walking! And it is accomplished through the empowering of the Holy Spirit (which Jesus gives to all those who believe in Him). So rest easy, my friend, knowing it’s not our job to point out sin to those in the LGBTQ community, but instead to point to Christ.
4. Being transformed by Jesus naturally causes those transformed to seek and follow Him.
Scripture shows that this man had had a life-changing experience with Jesus. So the very next time Jesus saw him, he wasn’t doing cartwheels around the Dung Gate. No, my friends! He found him seeking truth at the temple! Coincidence??? I think not!
5. A transformation by Jesus leads to His calling those He’s transformed away from sin.
There are a few points that I think need to be made here:
True… left unresolved, sin leads to total destruction. It wreaks havoc in the lives of believers and non-believers alike. It doesn’t discriminate because its goal is to destroy every last drop of all that is good. And while none of us understand as well as Jesus just how true this is, it’s important to note that He didn’t hit this new follower with words of judgment. He approached him with a message of encouragement that seemed to say I love you fully and want what’s best for you.
Dear friends, if ever we are compelled to share the implications of sin with a homosexual, it is my hope that we use this example of Jesus as our “how-to” guide.
One final thing that must be mentioned about this passage is the fact that, in order to best love (and serve) this “invalid man”, Jesus was willing to break the rule of the Sabbath. You see, God had commanded the Israelites, through the law, to keep the Sabbath day and make it holy. And accordingly, the people of Israel were not lawfully allowed to perform any “work” on this day. Instead, it was to be used to give honor, praise and glory to God, and in exchange, they would receive a day of rest from their labor.
But Jesus, out of radical love, was willing to descend from the perfection of heaven to save this lost man, and all of us. And He knew He would only be on earth a short while. So He wasn’t willing to stop pouring out His work of salvation (i.e. saving grace) on anyone who needed Him, for any reason, at any time… not even when the law of the day had to be broken in order to do so… even if that meant persecution from the chief priests and Pharisees, who promoted law over love (and who clearly had no real understanding of the ancient scriptures). It was for this reason that our Savior went to the cross…
“The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” – John 5:15-17
What can we as Christians learn from this truth about Jesus?
It’s that we should never stop pouring out God’s grace on anyone who needs it… because Jesus didn’t. He stopped at nothing. Nothing, my friends. The chief priests couldn’t stop Him. The cross couldn’t stop Him. Not even the grave could stop Him. Oh, no! This man, Jesus, is, was and will always be unstoppable. He came to save. And He conquered sin for all--- all who, from out of darkness, are able to find Him. So let’s start letting His love-light shine though us… to everyone, everyday! And let’s stop letting fear prevent us from fulfilling His greatest command of all… to love our God above all else… and love our brothers like ourselves.
Dear fellow believers, it may not always seem like it, but as it relates to our friends within the LGBTQ community, I believe it really is that simple… and easy. And it is my prayer that this series has left many of you feeling free at last--- to love this beloved community, as they deserve to be loved by us. And that through our compassion, intentionality and prayer, the Holy Spirit will bring forth a heavenly rainbow revival in the coming year, the likeness this world has ever seen before…
Brothers and sisters, won’t you please join hands with me today in commitment and prayer for this community, asking the Spirit to empower you to be a part of His mighty plan for redemption and salvation… and to show you how you can best love and serve the LGBTQ community along the way? I ask all this according to His wise will… His generous grace… and His limitless love… to HIM be all the power, the kingdom and the glory. Forever and ever! Amen!
My sincerest thanks to you, those moved to action by the Spirit, for your faithfulness. And to everyone who has followed along with this series and shared, as you felt led, I appreciate your support more than I could say.