I ran into a street preacher at Charlotte Pride this year.
I was carrying a sign that say “God Loves Gays”; he was carrying a big Bible and wearing a t-shirt that said “Jesus is the Standard”.
He handed me a tract and asked if I had received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I assured him that I had, when I was nine years old.
“Well don’t you believe the Bible? Do you know what it says about homosexuality?” he pressed.
I assured him that I did.
“But, so, what about those verses? What about sin?” he sputtered.
“What about it?” I asked. “I believe the Bible, and I also believe that many Christians interpret the Bible differently as they attempt to follow Jesus faithfully.” Paraphrasing Billy Graham, I continued, “I believe it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of sin. It’s my job to love.”
“Well, the most loving thing you can do is tell somebody the truth.” (The street preacher said it like it was a scripture, though I don’t think it is.)
I smiled and held up my sign, the one that said “God Loves Gays”.
“That’s what I’m doing”, I told him. “I’m sure a lot of the people around here know your favorite Bible verses about sin. I don’t know if they know that God loves them.”
Some people have a lot of technical questions about who God loves, when God loves them, whether or not all humans are God’s children.
But as I looked into those faces that day — faces smeared with rainbow-colored paint — I didn’t see any that were not made in the image of the Creator. I didn’t see any that were not children of the Father. So I told them the truest thing any human could tell another – “God loves you.”
And even, “God adores you.”
What good is our gospel if it starts with “Do you know this particular bible verse about sin?” and not with “Do you know you are infinitely loved by the most powerful force in the universe?”
What good is our theology if it does not start with a love far deeper and broader than we can understand, with grace that crosses every boundary we try to erect between us and our neighbors?
What good is our religion if we can’t look any human being in the eye and tell them, “God loves you” — without conditions or qualifications?
published August 25, 2014
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