Community, Sexuality, and Redemption

“I thank you God that I was not born a Gentile, a slave, or a woman!” That was the ancient daybreak prayer that Jewish men recited. So what a radical vision it must have been to hear that a day was coming when the Lord would pour out his Spirit upon all people in this oracle from Joel 2:28-32.

For a better understanding of this passage within it’s historical context, I suggest this post by John Mark Hicks. The significance of this oracle cannot be underestimated. Biology, sociology, and nationality matter not, for as is has been declared, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In fact, the apostle Peter will even recite this entire oracle in Acts 2 to declare the outpouring of the Spirit as the sign that the promise of the Lord’s redemptive grace has been fulfilled in Jesus and is available to all. So we cannot underestimate the redemptive significance of God pouring out his Spirit upon all people. It is the declaration that all people matter to God, not just the Jewish male. All people are invited to share in the new Spirit-empowered community that God has created in Christ, for all people are equal.

It’s very important that we remember this is for all people. To that end, we’re on solid ground saying that one’s race, ethnicity, social-standing, and even sexual identity matter not because all are equal, all are welcome! But it is this last point – sexual identity – that needs further explanation. I still hold the conviction that same-sex relationships are not the will of God for our lives but I don’t believe that a people should be unwelcome in this new community because they identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or trans-gender. That is because we all, regardless of our sexual identity, come as equals… We’re all sinners!

All Are Equal ✟ All Are Welcome

Regardless of our sin, we come in response to an invitation that God has extended in Jesus Christ who offers us salvation. However, this salvation is a lifetime journey. To borrow the language of Paul, salvation is justification, sanctification, and glorification. What God is doing is inviting us into a new community that belongs to Christ where we have been justified, are being sanctified, and will be glorified. But justification, sanctification, and glorification are not requirements for accepting this invitation from God, they are the results–more precisely, the result of God’s finished work of redemption.

Let me express what I’m saying another way. When God has completed his work of redemption, when Christ comes again, when heaven and earth again become one and God dwells among people (cf. Rev 21:1-4), I fully expect that there will be people who have struggled with sexuality, including people who struggled with same-sex attraction all their life. I expect this just as much as as I expect that there will be others who have struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol, or with anger and hatred towards people of other races, or with selfish and greedy desires, or with with being honest and ethical in their business practices, and so on. We all are sinners and we all still struggle with sin in one form or another. Throughout our journey we confess our sins to God and cling to Christ as our only hope of salvation, a hope the Sprit dwelling among us assures us of.

In the words of the African-American spiritual, when Christ returns the entire new community of God’s people will have one common testimony, “I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in…” What we need to learn how to do now is become as welcoming and inviting as God has been to us and is to all people. Then we’ll be a community where sinners just like us can discover the grace of God, find healing from any injury and be transformed by God the mercies of God which are new every morning.

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7 responses to “Community, Sexuality, and Redemption

  1. Thinking about harmony this morning and how misunderstood it is…stand by and listen for the sounding of a new kind of chord!

  2. Pingback: Come As You Are | Peter's Patter

  3. When Christ returns, we better have our ducks in a row. We must have, already found God’s savings grace and be a child of God. There will be no second chances. When we, obey the gospel of Jesus Christ God adds us to His community, Act 2:47. When Christ returns, those who are asleep in Jesus (saved) will be raised first, and meet Him in the air, Christ will then deliver His kingdom (the church) to God the father in heaven. In Rev 21, John saw the kingdom coming down, (the church) v9, that came with power. He saw what had already happened, not what was going to happen. The kingdom that Jesus promised his disciples, that some of them would still be alive when it came. We see that occur in Act 1 and 2. God dwells with His people now. We will dwell with Him in heaven when Christ returns, if we are apart of his kingdom.

    • Okay, but none of that has anything to do with or prevents us from welcoming all people and extending the same hospitality that Jesus constantly extended to the “sinner’s and tax collectors.”

  4. The point I’m trying to make is, we can and should welcome those who are outside of Christ to our services, they are always welcome. But they are not apart of Christ’s community, His body, His church, His kingdom, until they obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. God adds them, Acts 2:47, we can’t.

    • We both agree that it is God, and not us, who adds people to his community. I would only caution that we not be so rigid in our dogma that we unintentionally exclude those who God is adding (or has added) to his community. The story of Cornelius and his family becoming a part of the church in Acts 10, along with Peter’s reluctancy to welcome Gentiles, ought to remind us that sometimes we may be trying to exclude whom God includes.

  5. I agree, I also think of Paul. A devoted Jew, then Saul, he persecuted the Lord’s church, he was fighting for the Jewish traditions handed down by God, not realizing that things had changed and a Savior had come. He had the courage to change and become a follower of Christ. He excluded himself from his countryman and joined forces with Christ and His community of believers. Though he loved them, he did what he could to save them, he did what was right in God’s sight.

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