June 29, 2005

Overcoming Obstacles

As a huge sports fan, I often read about successful athletes who overcame the doubts of others—coaches, fans, even themselves—to realize great achievements. Perhaps the best known example of this is the story of Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player ever, being cut from his high school team. This helped fuel the determination he needed to develop his God given physical abilities.

Beyond the sports world, I know a group of people who have overcome even greater obstacles than that. These individuals have reached a much less publicized yet infinitely more important goal in their lives—eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. The people I am referring to are the gay and lesbian church members I am privileged to worship with every week.

I’ve been told some of the stories of how they were stung by condemnation from churches they grew up in, the feeling of being shunned by family members, and the public campaigns in churches and the political arena against the GLBT community. Amazingly, they fought through all of that and continued to seek God when it would have been easy to think it was not worth the trouble. Even worse, they could have accepted the rhetoric and believed that God would not accept them as gay or lesbian people. People who think God hates them often wind up hating themselves.

When they kept reaching out for Jesus, they found out something truly wonderful. Jesus was there reaching out for them—AS THEY WERE.

The Religious Right has conspired to make the salvation of homosexuals something they publicize as an oxymoron. According to them, a person can CHOOSE to be either gay/lesbian OR receive salvation through Christ, NOT both. They have also established that the only acceptable path to Christ, in THEIR narrow minds, is to renounce and avoid practicing all homosexual acts.

How then, would these fundamentalists (fundamental in hatred of people not like themselves) explain gay and lesbian people being baptized in the Holy Spirit and receiving the spiritual gift of speaking in tounges? I have seen this with my own eyes in our congreation, and their love and prayers helped lead me to personally receive those gifts in their presence. There weren’t different rules or requirements for me as a straight man--we ALL had to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

I am told that over the years naysayers have visited Believer’s Covenant Fellowship and, seeing the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and feeling His presence in the church, slipped out the door never to be heard from again. I suppose those anti-gay fundamentalists went looking for a group they actually had a chance of influencing.

We can engage in debate over the translation and historic context of key scriptures the Religious Right waves around in their persecution of the gay community. Yes, the Word of God is infallible but translations aren’t. Words also have a way of taking on different meanings over centuries. For example, if you watch an old movie and hear the word “gay”, they weren’t even thinking about homosexuals.

Fortunately, I haven’t needed to engage in that debate myself to learn that God loves and accepts LGBT people. I am hardly a biblical scholar. I’ve just needed my own two eyes (four if you count the glasses) and a small dose of common sense. My eyes have seen gay and lesbian people clearly filled with the Holy Spirit, and common sense tells me God wouldn’t fill a person with His Spirit if he was planning on sending them to hell. Duh!

There are some aspects of Christianity that are not particularly easy to accept. By definition, faith is belief in things unseen. Sometimes, though, He makes it easy and puts His truth right out in front of us within easy view. We merely have to be willing to see it.