Extending an Arm of Grace with the Strength of Truth
By Rick Perry
His name was Jeff and he had spent many years with the one he loved. At this date in time, Jeff was the longest living survivor of AIDS. He had lost touch with his dear friend from childhood who just happened to be my mother, only to be reunited by what may have appeared to be chance.
For nearly ten years a visit would be made several times a week if not daily to my Grandmother in the nursing home. Then it happened! My mother walked out of the room to bump into Jeff. Jeff’s aunt was in the room next door.
Jeff was glad for the opportunity to reunite and catch up on the many years that had been lost. My mother was privileged to talk with Jeff about the Bible and about his need for salvation. He connected with me in Botswana, Africa through the medium of the Internet. We would share the Word and he began to see truth. He realized that baptism in Jesus Name was the only way to be baptized and that one should speak in a language they have never received when they received the Holy Ghost.
Jeff visited my parent’s church and repented of his sins but never experienced baptism by water or spirit. He became tremendously ill once again. His disease took its toll on him and he passed away. Why didn’t he ever come into the church and pursue this experience? You see, Tom had been with Jeff all these years. He was with him through the worst of times and the best of times. Although after repenting he was going to make a change in lifestyle it was extremely difficult for Jeff to leave his partner. Tom was the one who had taken care of him all these years and once again he was in need of his help.
Some would say that is twisted, that it’s unthinkable. Consider being told that in order to be saved and to experience eternal life you would need to leave your spouse of nearly 30 years; the one who fed you when you couldn’t feed yourself, the one who supported you when you weren’t capable on your own. This was the situation Jeff found himself in. While chatting with me on-line he informed me that he understood his need but just couldn’t bring himself to make the change at this age in his life. Before you stop reading please read on just a bit longer.
Sin is sin. When God speaks of an abomination He gets my attention.
However, it seems that bigotry runs rampant amongst the Christian world. Can you hear the words of Stephen as they stoned him on that day, “lay not this sin to their charge.” Stephen, how can you say such a thing? They are wrong, they are sinners. You have stood for truth and for righteousness. If Stephen could respond today perhaps he would say “friend, you have to understand, above all else I want to see their soul saved.”
We are living in a world that is quickly turning against those who stand for truth and holiness which includes sexual purity. In light of all that is happening I feel an urgency to put aside my personal agenda and speak truth in love. Let’s be clear, homosexuality is wrong. Some say it is a sickness while others say it’s a choice. Scripturally it is a sin. The society we live in is sexually kaput. Homosexuality is just one facet of the morally bankrupt society we now live in. We need not underestimate the power of sexual problems whether it is gay or straight. We are quick to rattle off our disgust with homosexuality yet so many are addicted to pornography and the perversion of it is destroying our homes and marriages. Again, sin is sin.
Therefore thou art inexcusable, 0 man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things…. ….Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Romans 2:1,4
The modern day movement that says we should all just get along and be “tolerant” doesn’t line up with the Word of God. Jesus overpowered Peter when he tried to interfere with His mission in Matthew 16:22-23. John the Baptist was aggressive with the Pharisees in Matthew 3:7-8. Paul was willing to publicly rebuke hypocrisy, even when it was by a well-respected disciple in Galatians 2:11-14. Some would take Romans 2 and lead us to believe that we should just love and let God take care of it but we must be careful not to always give way to kindness at the expense of truth.
Jeff was no doubt loved by God. He was very open and proud of his lifestyle at times but this in no way justified his lifestyle when lined up with the Word of God. In a post-modern world let the church rise up and say we still believe in absolute truth: It is the Word of God. We must strive to understand, to love, to engage in educating ourselves as to the questions raised by the masses.’ We cannot “escape, if we neglect so great salvation: which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by then that heard him;” Hebrews 2:3. We must hold to truth and not the perversions there of.
Gay Christians? Oxymoron would be the conclusion by most. Yet we are seeing this movement growing in population every day. Paul addresses homosexuality in the New Testament. As a matter of fact Paul is the only one that addresses it directly and he does it not once but three times. He addresses it as a symptom of something that is in response to a larger problem. The modern day ideology is that we should conform to the world and not offend others. Christianity today is more willing to offend God than to offend the world. Society may try to justify the practice of homosexuality but in light of scriptures like Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 and Romans 1:21-28 we can not allow stories such as Jeff’s, the philosophies of worldly bias, and our own disillusions to allow us to remotely consider the preaching of tolerance to influence our stand on homosexuality. God has spoken very clearly on the subject and there is no justification even when our hearts break for those we love that have been caught in this lustful trap of homosexuality.
Where to from here is the question for many. Many are concerned about the future or our world with the influx and frankly onslaught of the gay and lesbian agenda. Let us allow the Word to guide us. If we are truly Christians then we are to be more like Christ. As oneness apostolic’s we often echo John 1:14 from our pulpits yet we neglect to take in the entire scripture. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Grace will say to us when dealing with homosexuality that we are to be willing to talk with and build friendships with them. We should want fair treatment in this life for them, as far as scripture will let, but more importantly we should ultimately be concerned about their Salvation. If we do not demonstrate grace when dealing with those living a life of homosexuality we lose our credibility and more than likely become what many in that lifestyle are led to believe we are.
While attempting to show grace we cannot let truth slip through the cracks. Truth is all we have. The opposite of truth is a lie and we cannot live lives that resemble a lie. We must be true to our convictions and to the word of God. When Jesus was dealing with the adulteress woman he extended grace to her yet called her behavior sin in John chapter 8. In these last days let us extend the arm of grace to a society that is bombarded with the lies of the enemy while also proclaiming truth in our relationships with those who are not yet of the same mind as we are.
What Do People Coming Out Of Homosexuality Want To Tell The Church?
1. Don’t think of homosexuality as something unusual. Realize that every church may have many people struggling with this issue, but are too afraid to share their problems.
2. Stop being embarrassed when talking about homosexuality. Embarrassment inhibits sharing and healing.
3. When someone shares do not ignore it, but follow up on that person. One counseling or sharing session is never enough. Change is an on-going process that may last many years. It takes long-term involvement.
4. Individuals coming out of homosexuality need WARMTH. Church people often will not touch them, but touch is needed and will be a major part of the healing process. Many of those coming out of homosexuality think that church people see them as diseased. There should be no irrational fear of AIDS. Show the same affection that is shown to other Christians.
5. Church members cannot give to the person coming out of homosexuality more than they themselves have received. They need a closer walk with Jesus so that they can model Christianity for the person leaving a sinful lifestyle.
6. Realize that puberty is a special time when identity is being formed. Help the teen-age person build a solid identity. Take a special interest in all young people going through puberty.
7. Build a trust relationship through mutual sharing. Share enough of your faults and shortcomings to put the person coming out of homosexuality at ease. Become a good listener. Limit your advice.
8. Stop expecting ZAP deliverance: change is a process.
9. Follow the Biblical principles of hospitality and invite them to your home or out to eat.
10. Spend time with the person coming out of homosexuality, study God’s Word with them. Help them to become well-grounded in Christ and to know how to put their armor on: how to protect themselves from the enemy. It is the obligation of every church member to reach out to others whether your church promotes outreach or not. Outreach should not be left up to the pastor or church leadership alone.
11. Allow them some kind of service in the church. He (or she) needs to have a sense of belonging in the Body and know that they are valued.
12. Many individuals coming out of homosexuality do not have adequate social skills. They may be withdrawn and fearful. Go the second mile and give them some special attention. Arrange to have them picked up at their home for church activities, at least for a while. Introduce them to as many people as possible, paving the way for future relationships.
*** Based on research conducted by New Hope Ministries, Frank Worthen, Dir.
From, “The Beacon” Volume 2 issue 2/ page 1-2, By Rick Perry
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