This sermon offers two preliminary words about two difficult issues that are hot topics in our culture: race and sex.
In this sermon, Greg addresses two real-life situations that we face today. The first pertains to race and the death of an unarmed black man, Daunte Wright, which occurred only ten miles north of where Derek Chauvin is currently on trial for the killing of George Floyd. Each of these situations do not stand in isolation, as they are added upon a historical series of such deaths.
We must ask what it means to use our “say-so” in a Kingdom way that addresses the social injustices that we face today. This is not about partisan politics, but about seeking God’s third way to respond and to reflect God’s heart. At this point, the leadership of the church has felt led to guide us in the practice of lament, an expression of prayer that allows us to offer our messy, broken pain to God. This goes beyond opinions one might have about the particulars of each situation, as we are to empathize with the pain that is being experienced by the black community in our country.
In lament we allow ourselves to sit in the pain, the confusion, the messiness, and the feelings of hopelessness. Lament is about authenticity, getting real with the terrible situation you find yourselves in and expressing how you feel about it. For example, look at Jeremiah’s lament after Babylon had ransacked the city and taken most of its inhabitants into exile. He writes,
The elders of Daughter Zion
sit on the ground in silence;
they have sprinkled dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth.
The young women of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.
In reality, Judah was ransacked by Babylon, not Yahweh. But in the Ancient Near East, they worshiped by ascribing violence to their God, so Jeremiah attributes all the violence of Babylon onto Yahweh. Therefore, Jeremiah says God is like an enemy who swallows up Israel, even though we know from Jesus that God is never our enemy and never devours people.
In silence, we as God’s people lament the painful brokenness of the American judicial system. We lament the centuries of systemic racism that lie behind this brokenness. This is not a comfortable practice; it’s not intended to be. Discomfort is part of the point. We’re allowing our conveniently-ordered lives to be disrupted by the disruption that our brothers and sisters are experiencing.
The second preliminary word pertains to the complex issues of human sexuality. In this word, Greg seeks to address the question of how the Bible’s covenantal understanding of marriage and sex relates to people who identify as LGBTQ+. To address this question, Greg offers four principles.
First, we must embrace the speck and log principle of Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 7. We are never to examine the speck in another person’s life before we pay attention to the log in our own eye. We must adopt a stance of absolute humility. We must all consider ourselves as the “worst of sinners” as the Apostle Paul did. This means that we meet God and each other at the bottom, not at the top.
Second, we are called to focus on people not policies. People are not labels, categories or subgroups. Each person is a unique individual, one-of-a-kind, and has value that is beyond worth. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all policy to our relating to others. This is why you need to be in a significant relationship with someone to be able to discern how Scripture might apply to a person’s life.
Third, since everyone needs community, we believe we are to focus on understanding our sexuality in the context of Christian community, not simply in our own individual isolation.
Finally, we are seeking to discern Jesus’ third-way approach. We are not simply weighing in on the pre-fabricated, binary options served up by our polarized culture. People on the right and the left have pre-set understandings of what God can and cannot tell a person concerning their sexuality. Both sides argue that they know God agrees with them. Opting out of this right versus left approach will free us to rise above policies and walk with one another in love with regard to questions of sexuality.
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