There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
Jesus is the one who came. He was a Hebrew from the Jewish people, but he is much more than that. He is the branch of that family tree who actually brought forth fruit. Real salvation. Not temporary relief from oppressive governments or land, but eternal life. God’s Spirit was with him, he knew why he was here. He was wise beyond man and able to accomplish more than is humanly possible. He put God the Father’s will as supreme, he did nothing apart from the father. Jesus is this one who would come, predicted over 700 years before he was born. God is amazing. Trust in Jesus, the branch.
The pressure in favor of affirming homosexuality in the church today is real. I want to try to help with this in my own way. I’ve seen some friends of mine be pulled away by some of these arguments which sound reasonable, but at the end of the day, I can only describe them as smoke and mirrors.
Fair warning about this post, the subject matter here is for mature individuals. It’s not a light topic, but it is an important one. I’d rather shoot straight with you and be honest than pull punches and see more of my friends walk down a dangerous path away from Jesus. It’s also a long post (3,000+ words) so be warned.
I need to make a few things clear up front. First, we (Christians) are called to love everyone, yes everyone! Even our enemies (Matt 5:44, Luke 6:27 et al). This means when a same sex couple shows up to church, they are welcomed to stay and participate. If they’re there to cause a ruckus or be a distraction by acting inappropriately as a kind of “shock protest” then they’ll be shown the door just like anyone else doing the same. Worship services are not a place for confusing distractions, they’re a place for order (1Cor 14:40). Second, I need to make clear, my conviction is homosexual practice, the act itself, as an unrepentant lifestyle, would be evidence in someone’s life that they are, in fact, not a genuine believer in Jesus Christ (that’s 1Cor 6:9). Third, this is not to say that those who struggle with Same Sex Attraction are barred from church membership, quite the opposite, every Christian is a former sinner who’s been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ (1Cor 6:11). We all stumble. Every saint is simply a repentant sinner. The mark of a genuine believer is not that they cease to sin, it’s that they never cease to ask for forgiveness (1John 1:9). Finally, homosexuality isn’t wrong because it’s worse than any other form of sexual immorality or because anyone finds it icky. It’s wrong because God says it is wrong. It has to do with the nature of who we are and how we are made as image-bearers of God (Gen 1:27). It’s not about “love” or “happiness” or any of that, it’s about right and wrong as revealed by the creator of you and me.
So, to the issue at hand…
16 In the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, began to reign. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 18 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. … 25 In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign. 26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…
The most important thing in leadership is integrity. Character is not something that is quickly built. Every leader is going to make mistakes, every leader is going to lead in directions people don’t like (otherwise, they’re not leading), but it should not be called into question, specifically Christian leaders, that they have God’s will as their aim. There is no substitute for godly character in a leader, there are all kinds of personality types and leadership styles and strategies, but integrity is not optional. There’s a big difference between “I don’t like what they’re doing” and “they’re doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord.” If you don’t have the latter, be thankful it’s just the former 😉
9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
Don’t trust in your own abilities. Don’t think something is too small to make a difference in your life. So what if I read my Bible. It won’t make any difference if I pray today. Going to church every Sunday isn’t a big deal, that’s not what it’s about… is it? Follow God’s instructions. Build habits into your life which are given to us in God’s word. Don’t trust in your own reason to the exclusion of biblical instruction. Follow the Lord, the Lord’s way. It doesn’t have to make sense to work.
1Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” 2 And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”
God still works the same way. Here was someone needing God to do a work in her life, but the conditions needed to be right. God took what she had, her oil, and then used her preparation of gathering the other vessels and filled them up. Far too often we think to small. If we are going to do ministry, we need to think bigger. We always must have another classroom open, another parking spot empty, a few more chairs available for guests to sit in. I’ve seen it over and over in 20 years of ministry, there’s a great surge of activity and people are coming. Every seat is full, all the parking spots are taken “isn’t this great!!!” Well, inevitably a few months later the situation is very different. “Bring me another vessel” and the oil stopped flowing. We must be prepared for what we believe God is going to do, and we must believe God is going to move big. Why wouldn’t we want God to reach people through us? Isn’t that why we’re here?