Of Rainbows, Love & Sharing God’s Grace

rainbow

The Cross is a symbol of Jesus love and death; offering mercy, grace and forgiveness of sins. The rainbow is a symbol of promise; offering hope, mercy and God’s love. The dove is a symbol of the Spirit of God; offering peace. The olive branch is symbolic of peace and extending grace.

The LGBT community has chosen the rainbow as their symbol, borrowing from Christianity, to make their statement. (And if there’s some pagan story about a rainbow, coolness. I still attribute the rainbow to the recordings in an ancient book, established long before any pride parades started up.)

My goal is not to stir hate and anger towards the LGBT community, or even from them, nor is it to put a feather in our collective Christian hat. That doesn’t interest me at all. I haven’t the slightest trouble loving them. And I don’t even have such a hard time understanding them anymore. Having spent many hours with Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, indulge in same-sex pornography and even fall into real live same-sex sexual encounters, I no longer see it as an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ battle. I see it as a ‘them being out’ versus ‘some (or many?) of us struggling and/or hiding’ same-sex relationships. I wish it were not so, but it is. And this isn’t some ‘let’s all panic and throw our hands up’ appeal; it is an appeal to be honest and look first at the beam hanging carelessly from our own eyes, as we point accusingly.

We have no right to point fingers. Far too many little boys and girls are introduced to sex at a young age, in our churches and communities, and have no where to turn to talk, to get support and to report molestation to the authorities–because the Bible does say to be subject to the rulers of the land, and those rulers tell us to report. And those same children come tell me how that took them on a path of same-sex attraction, or other sexually deviant behaviours. If we, the church, stand by and allow this kind of victimization, we have no right to point fingers at the LGBT community. (And, while I believe that molestation and early child-to-child sexual exploring is responsible for a host of homosexuality in churches–at least churches of my background–I do not believe that it is the only reason. And outside of our church circles I have no ‘data’ to back up any such claims, but I do have good cause to say it about ‘us’ based on what I have learned inside church walls.)

In fact, if the climate of society is distressing, I would dare to say that it first went wrong in the church, not the other way around. And I believe this because God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

If God’s people repent in humility and seek God’s face, then God will forgive His people and heal… His people? No! “…then I will heal their land!” The land is suffering because of the sins among God’s people. And then we stand back and get our knickers in a knot and wonder how they can do all that. Given what I’ve heard from church people, of what happens in secret, I can say with confidence, we are guilty.

I say this not to shame or condemn, but to invite the church to repent. And I would appeal to leaders in particular. Repent of your sins. Openly and publicly. Not this ‘carefully protect him because of his leadership role’ while dealing harshly with others. Repent like Ezra and Nehemiah, crying out to God, face down, with the people of God. It seems almost every week we hear of another church leader having an affair or some other moral failure, somewhere. And frequently I hear from victims who were blatantly molested or coerced into sexual affair, by leaders currently hold positions in churches. Always I ask if the offender or instigator has ever come back to say, “I’m sorry, what I did to you was wrong”, or if a crime was committed I ask if it was reported and almost without fail the answer is “No”.  Sometimes the leaders are people I know, and sometimes even leaders who have blatantly lied, saying they repented and took ownership, and yet sitting with their victims, they tell me they never heard from their offender(s).

Men and women of God, until we start living with some level of honesty and integrity before God, the ‘church’ and the world, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves–and, yes, in this situation I endorse being ashamed–if we place an expectation of holiness on unbelievers that we ourselves do not hold to. And I’m not talking in word, but in our lifestyle, in our repentance, in our transparency  with past sin, and certainly letting victims know (through safe avenues) that our sins against them were wrong, and sins against God.

A shake down is coming… Some of us have said it for several years, and we’re seeing it play out all around. And I believe we will see more and more hidden wickedness brought to light, particularly in religion at a leadership level. Again, I urge you, if you don’t want God to use drastic measures to expose you, then expose your sins and crimes yourself, and stop pointing fingers at the sinners who wear rainbow colours, when you drag your own ball and chain through church.

My prayer for the church and for the LGBT community is healing, wholeness and hope. My heart for both is love and the peace of God. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, whether in the church or in the world…. But the healing of the land, begins with us.

We all need God’s Rainbow of Promise, or surely we would be consumed and drowning by now, if He had not painted that first rainbow in the sky… We all need God’s Love and Grace. And it awaits, on our knees in reptentance.

Love,
~ T ~

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© Trudy Metzger

Flame-Broiled Grace

Every diet needs balance to be healthy. And, while fine on occasion, all meals should not be served flamed-broiled. Neither should all messages on Grace be served with Hell Fire.

****

She sat across from me, her hair neatly tucked under her prayer veiling, black covering strings in place, and hand-made ‘cape’ dress perfectly fitted. A church leader’s wife.

We conversed about many things. Her role as a leader’s wife, and what is expected of her. Their adolescent children. How they view Jesus and grace.  And then she took me off-guard….

“It’s almost as if we are uncomfortable with God’s grace,” she said.  (That’s true, I thought to myself. And so are most conservative Christians.) “I wonder why that is?” she added, thoughtfully.

“I don’t know… Maybe we’re afraid we’ll lose control?” I suggested.

“Maybe…” she looked thoughtful, not satisfied.

We discussed it for a while, this thing about grace, and how desperately we need to hear it, and how hard it is to tell without serving it wrapped in the condemnation of hell fire, with no real answers.

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This got me thinking a lot, lately, about why we feel we have to do that, serve the Good New of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, like that. As though His death and sacrifice are not convincing enough on their own, and a little fear of hell is necessary to get people saved.

Even writing this, I presume, somewhere, there will be those who gasp and wonder if I no longer believe in hell. If you must know, nothing has changed. I still believe there is a hell. But it is Jesus I worship, not my belief in any particular heaven or hell. Those are the mysteries of God that we are forbidden to fully understand. And there is a time and a place to tell of both, but not every time, and not every place.

Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all (mankind) unto Me.” He did say, “And don’t forget to tell them about hell. They’ll want to know about that place, because heaven with me is much more appealing.” He simply said that lifting Him up would draw all people to Him. Some will still reject Him, but He will invite and draw them. He doesn’t need the motivation of missing out on hell as a ‘bonus offer’. He is enough. More than enough.

And that is what I’ve been thinking, a lot. Whether the most revealing truth in all of this is that we don’t really have faith in Jesus as being enough, on His own–when He is lifted high and worshipped–to draw people to Himself. And if we have trained ourselves, or been trained, to serve grace, wrapped up in fear of hell, because we have not had a true revelation of Who Jesus really is, and exactly what He came to do. And, out of a lack of revelation, we don’t trust the Good News of Jesus to be enough.

In reading through the New Testament, I found Jesus spoke frequently enough of hell. But He seemed to reserve it for the religious–and leaders in particular–rather than for evangelism. And maybe we’ve had that part backwards….

And I wonder if the greater purpose of our knowledge of a place of everlasting torment ought not to propel us into telling the Good News, sharing the wonderful stories of Jesus, and lifting Him up, rather than using it to instil terror in people.

I understand that it isn’t possible to tell people what they are saved from, if we don’t first share that sin has consequence and brings separation from God. That sin cannot stand in God’s presence. And that is why Jesus died.  But that’s a different thing than preaching for thirty minutes–out of a forty-five minute sermon on grace–about the horrors of hell. (Or going over time so it gets properly explained.)

The world is full of condemnation and shame. Hardly does it need that message more passionately reinforced and expounded on, than the truth of grace and Jesus having paid in full, for their sin.  Or even expounded on every time we talk about grace.

Grace.  A free gift that will wipe all that sin away with one simple act of repentance by faith.  So simple. So profound. And therefore hard for the human mind to grasp…

****

I opened the email….

“Dear Trudy,

I have thought a long while about emailing you.  It is fear, I suppose, that kept me from it.”

She went on to tell me her story, as most people whom I’ve never met do, when they  email me ‘out of the blue’ like that.  She lives in USA, and was raised in a conservative Christian family. Abused in early childhood, and sexually active with other girls since long before she understood the meaning of sex, she struggled all her life with sexual addictions. Now, an adult, trying to live our her life of faith in holiness, she battled these same struggles and addictions at every turn. Was there any hope for her? Or would I simply judge her, condemn her for her sins, and turn away? She said she would understand if I did. It was how she felt about herself. Like so many  others she wrote, “I didn’t know who else to tell… I hope I can trust you with my story.”

I sat down to respond to her familiar message. If I had seen this message once, I had seen it countless times. And if I had believed in the healing of one, I would believe it for a thousand more.

“Dear Clara,” I wrote back. “Thank you for trusting me with your deepest pain, your story and your struggles. You need to know that you are not alone. There is hope. And I believe in your healing.”

I shared how I had worked with many women caught in pornography and addictions. Many with same-sex attractions or relationships. Many who had come hopeless, and found freedom through Jesus, even breaking free from same-sex desire, breaking sexual addictions and self-harm, and other struggles. I assured her that God’s grace was more than enough to cover her sins, to free her from the strangle-hold of addictions, and break the power of childhood trauma. Repentance for our sins brings freedom from its grip. Offering forgiveness to those who sinned against us brings freedom on another level.

That was pretty much my message. I offered no condemnation. No scolding. No reminder that she would be condemned if she did not repent of her current sins and addictions. Her email was filled with self-condemnation. There was no need for me to add to it.

Her response made me weep. “Dear Trudy, Thank you. I don’t know what else to say. Somehow I expected to be condemned. For the first time, in a long while, I feel a glimmer of hope that I can be free….”

That’s what grace does. It offers hope where there is hopelessness. Life where the spirit has died. And the promise of reconciliation with God, where sin once stood in between. All because of Jesus.  And Jesus, alone.

© Trudy Metzger

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