I was in the car chatting to my friend about stuff and the conversation moved a bit deeper, my friend is a Christian and she is gay and she has chosen celibacy as she feels this is what God is calling her too.
It prompted an interesting conversation about the call of those of us who follow Jesus to surrender all to him.
Some Christians who are gay do not feel that this is something that God is calling them too and have gay partners, there are also some Christians who would insist on mandatory celibacy for all gay people. It is this subject
which has been the ‘deadlock’ issue for large parts of the Church.
Yet, I want to take a step back from it all, and think afresh about the idea of Jesus being Lord of all:
Jesus, Lord of my everything.
Jesus, Lord of every relationship I have.
Jesus, Lord of all my dreams and desires.
Jesus, Lord of my finances and everything I have.
Jesus, Lord of my heart, mind, soul and strength.
There is an oft quoted adage that “if Jesus is not Lord of all, is he Lord at all!”
I recall on one occasion hearing a gay person saying about Jesus: “Yeah but he doesn’t like the way I live my life!” -Yet I believe that Jesus is good news for everyone!
As I thought about this I began to realise that I have no authority to tell anyone what they can and can’t do -especially if they are not Christians-, in the old model of Christendom we have tried to impose a moral structure on people who do not believe in Jesus and it feels like the heavy yoke of legalism.
Christians I believe we are all called to impact and encourage each other, iron sharpening iron, but also carrying one another’s burdens and loving one another, and we have yet to manage to disagree well with compassion, love and mutual respect.
Somehow we need to look afresh at our message and realise that it is truly good news for everyone whoever they are.
Yet although Jesus is good news but also requires sacrifice and surrender from us all. If we submit to Christ as Lord, we will be challenged profoundly in every area of our life as we go through God’s refiners fire, the process of sanctification, being made Holy by God with him at work in our lives by his Spirit.
Saying “yes” to Christ is a big decision, Jesus himself urges those to “count the cost” of following him and uses the picture of “picking up the cross” to describe the Christian life.
I worry that the Church has obsessed about sex and sexuality, that this is the only subject that is talked about, but I know God is wanting me to surrender things each and everyday and this extends to every area of my life, we are in grave danger of selling discipleship sort if we just focus on one part of life to the exclusion of all others.
We often trot out the truism that “God accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to let us stay that way”. If we hear and heed the call of Christ what are we prepared to sacrifice for him, the disciples on the Galilean shores left everything, and the rich young ruler choose cash over Christ, what of us?
Sadly the Church has become obsessed by what we do in bed rather than what we do within our banks or how we treat our breather? ! Jesus cares about every area of our lives, including our sexual, financial dealings and friendships.
What does it mean for Jesus to be our Lord of every area of our lives?
What does it mean to live for Christ and hold nothing back?
Which stems from a question each and every follower of Christ (or seeker of Christ) needs to ask: “If I come to Christ and seek to follow him, can I trust him with my whole life -including the bits I care most about and want to hold on to!” Which is asking if God good? Does he want the best for us?
Yet, as I urged the lad I met with Street Pastors come to Christ and know he love you, as you follow him and learn to trust him, we will be changed and challenged.
Other Christians will have different views, but when we disagree we need to learn to love and be gracious with one another, respect difference and read the Bible together prayerfully asking God to speak to us.
Recently my friend and colleague has been doing some fab RE lessons with the chair of Dorset humanist associations, they are friends, and they do a fantastic lesson together despite disagreeing they get on well and respect one another with love. How I long for this attitude to become more prevalent within the Church.
So, let’s take a moment not to just think about surrendering to Christ to be something that we try to impose on other people, but something we all do coming to Christ and being transformed more into his likeness, not judging one another but learning together with mutual love and respect.
Most of all, let us come to Christ knowing he loves us and we can trust him with everything that makes us who we are, and know that he is for us and not against us, wanting to bless and not to hurt, knowing he is good and his plans for us are good too.