“Who is my neighbour?” A trap set for Jesus by an “expert of the law”. A trap that prompted the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Samaritan’s were dogs according to proper Jews (in the 1st Century.) Yet Jesus used a parable of a good samaritan to both shock and teach the “expert of the law” and those gathered to hear him. Jesus challenged his hearers, not just by the story, but by the central character in the story – one who a proper Jew would see as unclean; one who was not to be associated with. (Jesus breaks this barrier down again with the Samaritan woman at the well.)
This synchroblog is the brainchild of my friend, Wendy Gritter. Bridging the Gap is the name of a DVD resource produced by New Direction, an NGO that Wendy leads. It is also the name of New Direction’s blog. New Direction seeks to create conversation between a community that has felt rejected by those who profess Christ as their Lord. Wendy says this,
The culture wars surrounding the topic of homosexuality have sucked up tremendous resources, have left devastated casualties in their wake, and continue to perpetuate polarization and enmity – most clearly seen in the divide between the Christian community and the gay community. The diversity and divisiveness surrounding gay issues is staggering. Even the above statement needs to be unpacked. The sense of polarization is not simply between the Christian community and the gay community as if both of those communities were completely monolithic and mutually exclusive. Rather, we see fractures within the Christian community and disagreements within the gay community. In the midst of this wasteland are gay Christians – a diverse group of people too – who often find very little safe harbour on either side of the divide.
I live in Toronto. A city that has the second highest LGBT population in North America, after San Francisco. And this is Gay Pride Week in my city. An event that brings upwards of a million people together to celebrate the freedom to live their lifestyle.
This is a tough week for many Christ followers. Many of us experience revulsion at the sexual antics that go on at the Pride Parade. We don’t have the tools to deal with the event – or even believe those tools are necessary. But many of the folk who participate in Pride Week are my neighbours. How do I respond? More appropriately, how would Jesus have me respond?
“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is shopworn and virtually useless. Are we called to judge and despise a community that has grown out of one aspect of sexual brokenness in our society? Or are we challenged to be neighbours? Are we challenged to befriend and engage in conversations? I would say we are. In fact, I would say we must!
I would also add that too many of us have what seems to be a low view of the Holy Spirit. We see it as our responsibility to judge and demand change from those we decide are filled with sin. (Our own mirrors must be broken.)
“Those people” must change before we will even consider engaging with them. We don’t acknowledge that the Holy Spirit has the ability to change what needs to be changed in the lives of others – or, for that matter, our own. And we demand that other’s change must take place according to both our prescription and our timetable.
And we wonder why there is this great divide between a community that defines itself by its sexual orientation(s) and one that defines itself by its commitment to Christ. (And yes, some folk are in both camps.)
UPDATE: Though I subscribe to Challies in Google Reader (sometimes just to get my low blood pressure up), author/blogger/bon vivant Jared Wilson was the one who turned me on to this Challies interview with John Bell. John and Ian Clary are two of the Theology Pub attenders that Imbi and I also hang out with. They co-pastor New City Baptist Church in downtown T-Dot. Would I use John’s approach? Probably not. But John is there in relationship doing his best to tell folk about Jesus – am I in any place to judge him?
The ever gracious Triple D also has a very good post.
UPDATE 2: And Triple D refers to the Challies post as well, (in Bridging the Gap Part Two) and concludes that post with a great Ed Dobson quote. In case you didn’t know, Ed Dobson is the pastor who helped launch Rob Bell. (Although the story gets told in a different manner in Bell’s Velvet Elvis.)