Same Sex and the Real Issue At Hand

Every month I meet with a couple handfuls of pastors from our fair city, mostly to hang out and eat lunch and chat. Which is great and just the way I like it. I enjoy just ‘being’ and not having an agenda or a ‘to do’ list. Perfect.

Last month when we met we decided to add a ‘spice’ to the mix. It was suggested that we should discuss things that are relevant for us, some ‘meaty’ topics. I threw into the mix the idea not to avoid any challenging topics, such as…same sex issues that is sorta on the front burner for many churches/denominations.

It was only a suggestion.

However, by the end of the day, an email had been sent out with the details of the next lunch and that ‘Scott will lead the discussion on same sex issue.’

Yay.

I’m actually expecting a good discussion with these guys. But to say that I’m a little bit nervous would be an understatement.

If I was a betting man, I would hedge my bets that they are coming knowing very clearly where they stand on the issue. And to be quite honest, I really don’t want to know where they stand. In fact, I don’t even think that is the issue here. I believe the issue is: Can we have a conversation and ask any and all questions, and even think through or allow to be questioned what we believe is the ‘right answer’?

I say all this because I find that if I try to have a conversation with anyone who thinks they ‘know the answer’, defences go up, stances are defended, and cliche answers get tossed around. I realize that much of this reaction comes from fear, insecurity, and ingrained beliefs (whether accurate or not). I also wonder if that fear reaction speaks more to our lack of faith/trust/belief in God, than it does to any ‘strong faith’ we think we have.

This past month I’ve been reading and listening to various opinions on the same sex issue, and not because I don’t know where I stand, either. I just want to be able to sit down with anybody and just listen to them, and ask some non-threatening questions for the sole purpose of being able to better understand them. As well, I am trying not to have a reply waiting in the wings, but to acknowledge that their thoughts and opinions are just as legitimate as my own.

Here’s what I’ve learned this past month…

  • I don’t have it all figured out
  • there is freedom in choosing not to judge
  • it takes effort to listen and not spout off
  • it actually does enhance your understanding of the subject matter
  • I am trusting more
  • people are easier to love
  • Christ’s yoke really is easier, and his burden is definitely lighter!

Oh yeh…my meeting with the pastors is in three hours!

BEWARE OF THE ‘GREAT’ SNARE

We are dominated by ‘great’…nah, actually inundated by ‘great’. We live for ‘great’, strive for it, talk about it, flaunt it, brag about it, and unfortunately compare ourselves to it. Great is all around us, but if we’re honest, it’s also just out of reach for most of us. Here’s what I’m getting at.

For some reason I have unconsciously chosen to follow a number of people on Twitter who I don’t really know, but in the Christian world, they’re considered ‘great’…or getting close to it. Those who are great generally have some worthwhile things to say, but what I find interesting (myself included) there are many who are in the ‘triple As’ doing their best to become ‘great’. And so they try to sound great by tweating cool sayings, little nuggets of wisdom, or referencing someone who is in the major leagues.

None of this is bad, but I wonder if we’ve become ensnared in the pursuit of being great, and if we have, then that could be a problem.

For me, I desperately want to bow out of the race of being great. No more being a great dad, great husband, great friend, great preacher, great pastor, great cop (in my former life), great neighbour, great human being. I want to bow out because when I run this race, I miss out on the life that is right before me.

Life before me are the non-great people who are right before my eyes. If I would just take the time to hang with them, I would be dazzled by the story of their life. I become blind to my neighbourhood I drive in and out of everyday of my life. It’s a non-great neighbourhood, but if I could only tap into the stories of life that are found here…wow! The stories I would hear

Life before me is the fascinating life that I’ve led so far, with a vast array of experiences and encounters with people of all stripes and persuasions.

Life before me is family that I have come from and the family that April and I have created. Who needs fiction when you belong to a family! I’m trying to think of how I could apply the word ‘great’ in describing my family. Ahhh, yes… “I belong to a great dysfunctional family!” For the most part it’s true, but nonetheless, I still love the family we have and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Life before me is the church that I have belonged to for fifteen years and pastored for the last ten. We are no different. We too have fallen for the ‘great’ bait. We want so desperately to ‘do’ great things for God. To be a great church, not only in the neighbourhood, but in our city, our nation and around the world.

Unfortunately we are not immune to the snare. In our willingness to remain discontent with who God has created us to be, we set lofty goals that become impossible to attain, and in the end we experience disappointment after disappointment. We miss what we have right in front of our very eyes.

This summer at the Cambridge Vineyard, I am looking at the book of Judges. When I was a little boy in Sunday School they would tell stories of the ‘heroes of the Bible, and that included the ‘so-called heroes’ found in Judges. Who are we kidding, the folks in Judges were no heroes, unless you’re talking about the GREAT blunders they made. What they did get right is that they made themselves available for God to use. Time after time God delivered the Israelites from a life of self-centredness, debauchery, murder and mayhem. And yes, he would raise up the various judges to rescue his people, and like a bull in a china shop, they would get the job done. But it wasn’t because of they were ‘great heroes of the faith’. It was because they served a Great God.

I really don’t want to be known as great, but my prayer is that I will be known as someone – blunders and all – that was used by a Great God!

LIQUID MERCURY

I remember the first time I was introduced to this silvery liquid called mercury that was found in thermometers. It was elusive in that it was like holding liquid ball bearings rolling around in your hand. What fascinated me though was if it was poured out onto the desk, it was impossible to pick it up and put it into your hand. Even when it was in my hand I couldn’t pick it up. It would simply break into two or three liquid spheres

Not sure if they still let students ‘play’ with liquid mercury anymore, as I’m sure they have declared it to be a ‘hazardous’ product…NOT to be played with.

For me the mercury reminds me of this most wonderful human attribute…humility. I love humility when I see it on people. You can smell it a mile away and it is literally the ‘queen’ of human attributes (okay, I’m sure there are others – just sayin’).

I know the Bible talks about ‘clothing ourselves in humility’, or ‘putting on humility’. Sort of like a pair of well-worn jeans. But it’s not that simple and that is what makes it so profound…so mysterious.

You can see it when others wear it, but if you go trying to act it, or tell people you have it, or even try to ‘put it on’ – – well you sorta contradict what it’s all about. To me it’s a definite God-thing. It’s proof enough for me that God exists.

One of the things I love about humble people is that they don’t think poorly of themselves. They are confident, and yet have this wonderful knack about them to make others feel valued and needed. They have no problem celebrating the gifts, skills and talents of others. It’s a beautiful blend.

I tried to find a photograph, illustration, symbol or anything that would represent humility. Everything I found on Google images seemed…I don’t know…plastic…two dimensional. It was then that the memory of my introduction to liquid mercury came to mind.  So let it be known, from this day forward that liquid mercury is the symbol for humility! (kidding)

The other day I stumbled upon a poem entitled, The Man and His Shadow, by Paulo Coelho. Have a read…just read it for the enjoyment, not for theological soundness or anything like that. See if you don’t agree that Paulo paints a most beautiful picture of humility.

The man and his shadow

by Paulo Coelho

Illustration by Ken Crane

Many years ago, there lived a man who was capable of loving and forgiving everyone he came across. Because of this, God sent an angel to talk to him.

‘God asked me to come and visit you and tell you that he wishes to reward you for your goodness,’ said the angel. ‘You may have any gift you wish for. Would you like the gift of healing?’

‘Certainly not,’ said the man. ‘I would prefer God to choose those who should be healed.’

‘And what about leading sinners back to the path of Truth?’

‘That’s a job for angels like you. I don’t want to be venerated by anyone or to serve as a permanent example.’

‘Look, I can’t go back to Heaven without having given you a miracle. If you don’t choose, I’ll have to choose one for you.’

The man thought for a moment and then said:

‘All right, I would like good to be done through me, but without anyone noticing, not even me, in case I should commit the sin of vanity.’

So the angel arranged for the man’s shadow to have the power of healing, but only when the sun was shining on the man’s face. In this way, wherever he went, the sick were healed, the earth grew fertile again, and sad people rediscovered happiness.

The man traveled the Earth for many years, oblivious of the miracles he was working because when he was facing the sun, his shadow was always behind him. In this way, he was able to live and die unaware of his own holiness.