"The Church needs us, whether it realizes it or not. It is as broken people that we model our fallenness as the paradigm to intimacy with Jesus. We often are the first to know that it has never been about our giftedness, but our intimacy. We are a witness, a tangled but tangible reminder, of how God’s grace gives His power to the weak and despised" (2 Cor 12).This quote is from someone I have never met, but someone who I deeply appreciate. Pastor Bryan Lowe has helped me, from a distance, to navigate very hard times.
Because Pastor Bryan (1) has been open about his weakness, his brokenness and his sin, and because, at the same time, Bryan (2) is a brother in Christ who does not compromise the truth of God's Word and recognizes his responsibility in Christ to live in obedience to it when it is hard, and (3) because in some ways we are not alike, this fellow pastor has helped me immeasurably in relating with others who manage to survive in the midst of unrelenting pain that I have not experienced myself.
Honest sharing of brokenness and pain opens a sort of doorway to relationship in a way that is particularly fruitful. It's no mistake that the Bible is so honest about the struggles and failures of its principle characters. Though I give thanks every day for the God-given strengths and spiritual gifts God has given, those bright spots are not very effective in opening the door to others. Some folks just won't be able to relate to me. But when those strengths are coupled with the honest confession of weakness, when I confess that some things are just really painful and hard, chances are much better that people will be open to what I have to share.
I think this is the way forward in walking difficult paths with others when there are significant differences in our struggles. Another acquaintance (Wesley Hill), who is dealing with a whole other set of issues, has said things that are similar to Pastor Bryan. I so appreciate these brothers who have been open and who share their hearts and their minds. Thank you so much.
I'm thankful to others, including people who are connected with our Crossroads Church in Cokato, who are likewise open with those they trust about their broken edges. Everyone isn't called to public ministry. Everyone isn't called to write and preach in ways that expose their soft underbellies to the world. But the more open we can be, even with a small circle of trusted friends, the more we will open doors for the effective work of the Holy Spirit.
Let's not just proclaim our strengths. Let's share those broken areas and rely ONLY on the grace, mercy and power of God.
"Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)------------------------------
I've been struggling about how to relate this to the current situation. I've revised this blog post more than once before I posted it and now again (1:30 p.m.) after it has been published.
The following is an intro that I had originally published with the post above.
Tomorrow will be a great day at Crossroads. We will be having two events that put the spotlight on brokenness--see www.crossroadscokato.com and crossroadscokato.com/taking-care.
Both events will help us reach out effectively to those who suffer.
I hope that, as we do so, we will not just look at others like the religious person who said "God, I'm glad I'm not like that [person]." To be reminded of this, see the story of the "Pharisee and the Publican." Also see Psalm 22:24 - "God has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from him; But when he cried to Him for help, He heard."
Too often we have despised and ridiculed, or ignored those who suffer. It is so sad and it's something Christians need to repent of if we have been guilty of this unloving sin.
This comes up in a world where sexual morals are changing almost beyond recognition, it's good for us to consider how we might relate to those who experience struggles that are very different from our own. This is particularly true now as so much is changing in our state and our nation in regard to same-sex marriage.
Some in the LGBT community will react strongly against what I shared. I believe same-sex attraction is one of the many signs of "The Fall" and brokenness. The LGBT community has a very different position.
Like Martin Luther once said, if I am wrong I want to be corrected, "by scripture and plain reason." I invite honest and open communication about this and all other issues. That's one of the purposes of this blog.
What I've written began with a quote from someone whose challenge is different. It's not same-sex attraction. No matter what you think about that issue, I hope you'll read what I wrote as an attempt to be compassionate and truthful, and to take seriously what those who deal personally with certain painful issues have to say.
----------------------------------Can this be a way forward in relating with those who have, to one degree or another, same-sex attractions? Can this be a way for me to walk beside those who identify themselves as gay or lesbian or bisexual or transsexual or "questioning" (LGBTQ)?
Let me know what you think.
Let's share and pray about these things as we go ahead in the public world that is being reshaped in our time.