Misseo Dei and LGBT: a letter to conservative christians regarding the mission of God


 

Analysis gathered by missionaries and sending agencies focusing on unreached people groups typically looks at those in lands far away, where the gospel has not reached. Sometimes the analysis focuses on groups whose ideologies and religious creeds undoubtedly indoctrinate and blind their followers instead of liberating and saving them. There exists a people who have migrated all over the world, have various religious backgrounds and different nationalities, but flow under one cultural label: LGBT.

The Queer community has been inundated with scripture and famished from it. Maltreatment by religious establishments often does more harm to the proliferation of the gospel than good. Over the centuries, gays have been alienated, rejected, sent to work camps, imprisoned, and even sentenced to death. A right viewing of scripture would suggest the rise of loving organizations and teaching in church that flows from a biblical theology of missions.

To separate gays or LGBT person as tares instead of wheat, who are undeserving of the message of hope, is ignorance. The concepts blasted from certain fundamentalist American pulpits propagate a negative viewpoint and bias in Christian circles towards LGBT. Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell once piped to Christian audiences, “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”  Rather than compassion for the woman caught in the act of adultery, society is quick to pick up stones. The old adage love the sinner, hate the sin has been applied to various sins and addictions, but the evangelical church is leery still of contending with gays. I think a better more appropriate wordage would be “love the sinner, hate our own sin.”

Being gay is not a sin; reckless sex outside of love is a sin, just like any act that causes separation from God or hurt to our neighbor. Some suggest that the greatest sin is rejecting the Holy Spirit and God’s invitation to be made whole through Jesus Christ. And perhaps, evangelicals and conservative fundamentalists have helped to perpetuate this sin by showcasing a God of hate. All sin is displeasing to God; however, Christian history shows a tendency towards negative bias against gays. The church tolerates socially acceptable sins within its walls, but rejects the LGBT. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa. 64:6, NASB). By now knowing this fact how do Christ followers react? It should be with a humble, loving, servant attitude of missions.

The overall theme throughout the cannon of scripture is God’s redemptive plan. God is not a separatist seeking to group people into categories of worthy and unworthy of His saving grace. Rather, Yahweh spreads his love to the universe in his intent to see all people come to His saving knowledge. With free will, humanity is left to wrestle with the issue, so not everyone will come to God, unless of course one believes that all of creation will be redeemed. Oh universalism- but that is not the topic of this little posting. God continues, however we understand views on salvation, to beckon humans to join Him and love Him. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God wants to rescue all people. The earliest call to mission and redemption can be found in Genesis: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

George Peters states that the Protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15 is a “portion which uniquely belongs to all mankind.”  All people, all sinners. The thought of the Old Testament “has been interpreted in narrow nationalistic terms or from a legalistic point of view”  in many circles, yet upon further inspection one must realize “its racial scope … for as Christ becomes the savior of the total human race is Genesis 3:15 really revealed.”  God, planned a way for humans to be reconciled to Him from the inception of sin, even homosexuals.

God’s establishment of national Israel flows from His plan to redeem humanity. God tells Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). The whole earth is cursed with sin due to the fall of Adam and Eve. Yet, God picks a man from a people of moon worshippers to start His holy people who will lead to the curse breaker. Kaiser notes, “the promise of blessing that is to come from the hand of God … stands in opposition to the curse.”  Israel begins its roots, moving by faith to inherit a promised land.

There is much interaction between Israel and the people of other nations. Many scholars refuse to see Israel as a mission-focused people, but the Torah is laden with interactions of Jews and goyem, or gentiles. God goes out of His way to reach gentile individuals. The list is long, including Melchezidek, Balaam, Rahab, Naaman, etc. Kaiser states God’s mission was clearly “not exclusively Jewish in the Old Testament.”  Nowhere do we find God being a racist or a being who classifies people by gender, creed, or sin nature—He loves all of us equally, despite the fact that His followers have often given in to socio-political or socio-cultural pressure. “Foreigners and gentiles were expected to come worship the Living God because of the nature, power, and saving qualities of the name of God.” 

Missio Dei is at the heart of the Old Testament. The Psalmists paint beautiful pictures in our imaginations about the glory of God and how Yahweh has loved the nations. The authors of the Psalms speak of God’s vision to save all of humanity. In fact, Psalm 96 alludes that all people, foreign and near, “should come worship God” in unity.

If any section of Holy Scripture deals with God’s inclusive and universal loving-kindness it is the prophets. From Isaiah to Malachi, the prophets affirm Yahweh is “the only God and that all nations must come to know him.”  The prophets “with their sense of God’s universal mission to the nations, are a constant rebuke to all narrow conceived visions of what the church should be doing in the world today.”  The prophets aim to restructure the establishment. The people of God refused to serve anyone, unless the act of service is also self-serving. Isaiah prophetically speaks of Christ in his servant song, but also speaks to the house of God by ushering in the thoughts of servant leadership. God is always unpleased with suffering and injustice. “He is strangely moved at the cries of the oppressed, particularly when God’s people collectively make neither effort nor sacrifice to relieve their anguish.”  This servant of whom Isaiah speaks “is no less national Israel.”  Christ and his church will participate in God’s saving plan as servants who care for others and lead them to salvation.

Does God care about the sinner? Yes. Even within the times of the Law, God set apart Jonah to go speak to Assyria, the “world-gobblers … one of the cruelest and most rapacious empires of the ancient world.”  The Assyrians, the villainous characters depicted in the movie 300, were notorious for capturing nations, slavery, wild sex parties, gluttony, and idol worship. Yet God had mercy on them when they repented.

The Old Testament weighs heavy in its mission-themed sections. God wishes all humanity (all sinners) made whole under His reconciling love and the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ. The New Testament dawns with the ultimate servant-leader’s emergence. Jesus Christ appears in the text, found reading from the Torah in the temple, “The spirit of the lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the lord” (Luke 4:18-19, NASB).

God freely offers hope to all the poor. The use of the word poor here “often appears to be a collective term for all who are disadvantaged.”  The message of hope is for everyone; people who had childhood experiences of sex play, molestation, rape, divorced parents, absentee parents, abuse, and trauma. The gospel is not for the innocent, but it is for people who need it. Jesus does not care what others think of him, especially the religious. “He is not a slave of social convention or the expectations of family or peers.”  Jesus forms His ministry around all people, especially those marginalized by society. The disciples were influenced by these pressures so much they sometimes doubted Christ’s action; “In John 4 the disciples did not expect to reap a harvest among the Samaritans” but look what happened. One woman was given a chance to be made clean and whole from all her mistakes and was promised living water and pure love. Most people are simply looking for love.

The New Testament is a record of such love. A love that never fails in that it continues to advocate for humanity. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10, NASB). His love is so awesome that it continues to purify. Καθαριση (to cleanse), as used in this passage, is in the present active indicative grammatical form. It means a continual cleansing. If one if facing a severe sin struggle and earnestly confess it, God’s love will cleanse—so much so, He never abandons His work. He will see it through to accomplishment.

Acts 1:8 exists not only as a command to Christ followers, but as a promise. God will endow His people with power to witness to every person about His great love. The whole New Testament speaks of His redeeming qualities and cannot be ignored. As the people of God, Christ followers from every sect and denomination should be sharing their faith with others. It is a shame that the church has not fully engaged the homosexual community with Christ’s message of freedom from sin and true love. Jesus, in Matthew 28, did not say “sit you, in your comfortable air conditioned churches and listen to good music and laugh at the preacher’s jokes.” What he did say was: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:19-20, KJV ). The New Testament continues to move the faithful to action. Humans are all sinners, worthy of death, and without any good deeds of their own according to some. Others suggest that we are made in the image of God, and hold within us beauty and truth. However one views humanity, God loves His creation and seeks that the whole world might be saved. Followers of Christ must do the job and transmit the message with love and not condemnation.

Perhaps even more so to those who have been hurt by church, and by a skewed view of an angry God. If mission is important to God it should be to us. I don’t think that pointing out sin, and then telling someone they need Jesus is a very good way to share good news. In fact that isn’t good news. Good news is that Christ redeems all things- even the pain in our lives. Here’s the deal:  Don’t worry so much about someone’s attractions, but rather focus on sharing the Good News that Kingdom of God – a place of equity and Justice, is indeed at hand.

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