Sunday, August 16, 2015

Being and Doing

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” - Matthew 7:13-14
I've always loved this passage of the Bible from the Sermon on the Mount. Just before it, we have the Golden Rule, “"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). I've always believed that the a Golden Rule is the basic belief of Christianity summed up in one verse, but the verses that follow it explains what it's like to be a Christian. We have two paths we can follow in life, the popular path, which is through the wide gate, or the less popular path, which is through the narrow gate.
Anyone who has ever been a social outcast, those of us who walk to the beat of our own drum, we are going through the narrow gate. Gay Christians always choose the narrow gate. We are usually not only unpopular with other Christians but also unpopular in the LGBT community. For many people who claim to be Christians, they take the easier path and condemn homosexuality but ignore many of the passages surrounding the clobber passages they throw at us. Also, many in the LGBT community turn away from God. They see God as allowing their persecution by people,who claim to follow Him. Neither is anymore right or wrong than the other, but both are equally wrong. It puts gay Christians in a very unpopular position, and one that causes many struggles.
While we may not be accepted easily by either group, we must continue our faith. Jesus tells us that as Christians we cannot look for shortcuts to God. He tells us that the market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time, but we can't fall for that easy way out, even though crowds of people do. We cannot change our sexual orientation as Christians claim we can, nor can we turn away from God as many in the LGBT community do. The way to a fulfilled life and to God is vigorous and requires total attention.
So many people fall under the spell of religious leaders who preach hate, but we must be wary of these false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. They will promise salvation if you follow their teachings but it is their teachings, not those of God.
To give an example of this, the increasingly predictable Pat Robertson recently said that he has no time for Christians who are accepting of the LGBT community. The right-wing televangelist, who has been outspoken in regard to his deep opposition to LGBT rights, warned a "700 Club" viewer to "stay far away" from a church with an openly gay pastor. He followed this with his version of quotes from the Bible. Earlier this year, he told a concerned mother to "pray that God will straighten out" her teenage lesbian daughter, who had recently come out of the closet. Instead of preaching love and inclusiveness, Robertson takes the path of the wide gate and preaches fear and hatred.
We can't just say “Lord, Lord” and expect that we can look pious and then it will be seen as thus, but we must practice the life Jesus spelled out for us. What is required is serious obedience to God. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” 
Just because someone speaks the Word of God does not mean he follows the Word of God. What you speak must be on a good foundation, something preachers like Robertson lack. The Words of God are foundational words, words to build our life on. If we work these words into our life, then we build upon a firm foundation and it will withstand the pressures from the outside world. But for those who just use His Words in Bible studies and don’t work them into their life, you are like the man who built his house on the sandy beach, then when a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. Robertson and those like him build their ministries on the poor foundation of fear and hatred.
I have always followed my own path, and I have usually been excluded from the popular crowd. Instead of partying in high school and college, I studied and made good grades. It allowed me to get a fantastic education. Grant it, I'm currently without a job, but that is a temporary setback. When we are on the narrow path, sometimes it takes us a while to get through the more narrow gates, but we will and we will be better for it in the end. Good things will happen in my life if I just persevere, and as a Christian, good thing will happen in the next life because I kept the faith, followed God’s Word, and didn't take the wide and popular path. 


Susan said...

What was said here and the way you said it is beautiful, Joe. An excellent sermon any preacher could be proud to call their own. It is unfortunate more do not try to express these thoughts. Thank you.

Hot Studs said...

Love the text, Joe. :)
Nice article, really.