Do you ever feel hated by the world for being a gay Christian? We're not just persecuted for being gay; the gay community's not too fond of our Christian beliefs either, especially if it makes more than a marginal difference in our lives.
John 15:18-21; 16:1-4 (NASB)"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, butI chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ' A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me."These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.When you feel lonely in your struggle, come back to this passage and remember the One who endured that hate and persecution first. God is with you, even now.
I don't know about you, but there are times I don't even want to be called a Christian. When my non-Christian friends talk about the hypocrisy and self-righteousness they observe in many Christians, I can't honestly disagree with them. I see the same things, and it makes me angry. In some cultures today, Christians are known more for hypocrisy than for grace, and that's a terrible shame.
But I have to remind myself that these things made Jesus angry, too. The Jesus I serve is the same Jesus who spent his time eating with the most obvious sinners of his day without condemning them. He's the same Jesus who spoke up for an adulteress when the rest of the town was ready to stone her for her sin. And he's the same Jesus who reserved his harshest words for the religious leaders, angrily denouncing them as "sons of hell."
Next time you get angry at hypocritical Christians who turn people away from God, read this passage and know that God is angry with you.
Matthew 23:13-28 (NASB)" But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation."Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ' Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.' You fools and blind men!Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, 'Whoever swears by the altar,that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.' You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven,swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it." Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also." Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Notice how strong the language in this passages is. Do you understand why Jesus was so angry? Are you ever guilty of hypocrisy, ungrace, or other behaviors that might give Christians a bad name?
The church is made up of fallible human beings, so sometimes our pride gets in the way of becoming what the body of Christ is intended to be. Nevertheless, what does this passage tell us about God's character as well as God's plans for us as Christians?