Love wins. Because LOVE already WON.

We walked in to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner, and as the hostess was taking us to our table, we could see their hatred and judgment towards us in their faces. My heart broke as I saw them get up from their table in the middle of their meal and leave the restaurant…

Have you ever felt judged? I mean wholeheartedly judged for your race or choices or life? I have, it's awful. 

First of all, if you are looking for a theology debate, I am not your gal. I have no desire to argue theology.  This is not about theology. This is about sharing my heart and experience. This post is not about the left or the right, or 'right' or 'wrong'.

Last week I met a woman named Heidi at the kid’s ‘soccer practice’—we talked for over an hour. She is gay. We had a wonderful conversation and I felt led to invite her to church. She said "My partner and I have actually been wanting to go to Church for a while, but does your Church discriminate?"--my heart sank. I said "All are welcome..." And I was reminded of a man named Ted I met last month. He is gay and an atheist. He grew up in the Church but felt so judged and ostracized when he ‘came out of the closet’ that he became an atheist. As we talked he said, "If God is so loving, you would think his people would be too."--Ouch.

It reminded me of a time in my life when others judgments of me and my life were so painful that I feared going out of my home at times. People actually left restaurants that I had walked into. It was a very painful season in my life. I was yelled at in public, notes about my choices were left on my car and at my door. And I am sad to admit that because of my choices, there were Churches I was 'kicked out of'. I also had my acceptance to a Christian college revoked. And then on my last attempt to seek community and God, there was 1 church that let me in--and that Church radically changed the course of my life forever. Amazing what acceptance and love can do… 

I can't even fully express how hard it was to live day in and day out with those judgments, but it has given me a little taste of what our gay family and friends have faced and sadly continue to face.

As Jesus followers we are called to do the very thing Jesus does, love. We are never called to participate in something our conscious has a hard time with. But should our conscious struggle with doing the VERY thing Jesus did and still does?—LOVE others without judgment.

We are called to love every one unconditionally. Not just those that fit in to our standard of normal behavior or who are making choices we believe are right. We are called to love people to the cross--and it's Jesus' job to do the rest. If anyone’s behavior needs to be changed--it's God's job to convict, NOT ours. 

Love can win in this situation. So many gay people are hurt by "God" because His people have misrepresented Him. I am not saying ANYONE should compromise their beliefs. What I am saying is, if your belief doesn't lead you to love someone irrespective of their lifestyle or choices, your belief is probably not in line with the heart of Jesus who loves unconditionally.

We live in complicated times and as a result, the Church is often misrepresented and misunderstood. The media tends to show the craziest of crazies in Christianity, but I hope my gay family and friends know we don't all hold signs outside of our Church that say "God hates gays”. That is tragic.

I know some Christians live in fear that the ‘gay agenda’ may influence or impact our families and lives. But we can’t live in fear. I believe the opposite of love is not hate, it is fear. I know in my own life, fear drives me more than I wish it did. Even if we fear that our families are being impacted, or being hurt by gays being able to marry, we are still called to love them. We can’t let fear win because God is bigger than any fear we have. The Gospel is bigger than any fear we may have. 

I understand that people are struggling and have issues with direction that our society is going. But we cannot hold these struggles or issues against the individuals within that movement. Struggle with the movement, fine. BUT love the individuals. Love wins. It’s a hot topic, I get it. I second guessed even posting my thoughts, being concerned some would think I was ‘watering down’ the Gospel. I guess I just believe the Gospel is big enough for all of us. God is still on the throne. As long as we are seeking Him, He will not leave us nor forsake us. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

My wonderful sister-in-law Christy is gay. She is married to an awesome woman named Molly. And they have a precious little girl who is our God-daughter. Neither Christy nor Molly claim to be Christians yet they are some of the most loving and forgiving people I know.  (Side note—if they accept Jesus, they are going to be rockstars for Him.) God made them both incredible women. Christy and I have had wonderful conversations through the years (and we will continue to) and she listens to our opinions and beliefs and we listen to hers. I happen to be married to one of the most compassionate, God-loving, people-loving people I know. Gary doesn't judge, Gary loves. I have learned a lot from him in this. He even extended Grace immediately to the people who judged us so harshly. I was a little slower on the Grace giving… those rocks that were thrown hurt me and I still have bruises. I will be happy to show you my heart if you don’t believe me. 

From experience I have learned that if we want to earn the right to speak our opinions in to someone’s life about ANY choices they are making—we need to follow God’s steps and love them first. 

Jeremiah 31:3 says “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” 

It is not our job as Christians to change anyone’s behavior but our own. We have some work to do on our 'side of the street' before we start cleaning up someone else's ‘side’. Christians will not win anyone over to Jesus by focusing on their behavior and telling them their life is wrong. Christianity is NOT about behavior. It is about Jesus. The bible is clear our choices and behavior do NOT make us Christians. Accepting God’s radical love and grace and accepting that Jesus took away our sins and made a way for us to God makes us a Christian.

Just because we follow a certain set of rules or standards doesn’t make us a Christian any more than baking one delicious cake makes us a real baker.

My point is that Christianity is NOT about behavior. It is about Jesus. And He will change whatever behavior He feels needs to be changed in His own time in all of our lives. And sometimes changing behavior is a slow process. At least that has been my experience. God always says “come to me as you are”. He is less concerned about behavior than He is about our hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 

It’s always been about the heart for God, but more importantly it has always been about God’s heart for us. 1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

One of my favorite scriptures is the one new command Jesus gave us, John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

We are called to love people to the cross, not nail them to it.

It’s amazing what acceptance and love can do to a hurting heart.

I guess I am just sharing my painful experience and the detrimental affects being judged by ‘man’ had on my heart and life. Judgment only wounded me and pushed me from God. I agreed with Ted for some time too “If God is so loving; you would think His people would be too.” But LOVE WINS. God brought compassionate, accepting people in to my life—and it changed the course of my life forever… Hallelujah. 

As I have been reflecting on my own journey and what led me to God’s loving arms, I was reminded of Romans 2:4b “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” God’s loving kindness leads to soft hearts so we can hear from Him. It's not judgment that leads to repentance. Judgment never worked. That is why God sent Jesus, as a love offering for ALL.

In my own life, it wasn't the 'judges' who led me to repentance or to the Lord. It was the loving and kind ones that led me to Him. Once I was accepted and loved, then I could let my guard down enough to hear and experience the love of God.

I am not saying Christians get to do and be whatever they want—that doesn’t work either. Trust me, the Holy Spirit has convicted me about more than a few things in my life—but that’s His role, to lovingly lead and guide us to a more free life. But it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us, not men’s. 

Billy Graham said, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

Reflect on your own life for a minute. When we are judged, our defenses go up and when they are up, it's hard to let them down. It takes compassion, acceptance and love to bring those defenses down. And let me tell you, those folks in my life that were the ‘Grace givers’ and extended love and grace to me during that painful time are some of my heroes. They looked past my behavior. They looked past my choices and loved me. And their love opened my heart to God as He began the process of transforming my heart. It softened places in me that had become so hard and pained. I believe that is why Jesus gave us the commandment to love, He knows how powerful acceptance and love is.  

Our mission as believers in Jesus Christ is to carry His message to ALL. Friend or foe, gay or straight. We are to love others as He has loved us, right where they are, in the midst of whatever is going on in their lives. 1 John 2:6 “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Let’s let God do the judging. I don't want to be a roadblock or stumbling block to someone coming to know Jesus and experiencing the amazing power of His love, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s a tangible love, more tangible than any hate I have felt in my heart. Love wins.

Love and compassion led me to the loving, forgiving, and amazing arms of Jesus and to an abundant life of grace, love and understanding. I am even learning (SLOWER than I would like to admit) to forgive the judgers. Because, let’s be honest, we all tend to judge what we don’t agree with or understand. I am just as guilty. 

But I want to be known as a “grace giver”. And if I am going to err--I will err on the side of love. Love wins. Actually love already won. Jesus already won the war for us—it’s our mission now to share His compassion and grace with all. 

One of my Pastors this weekend said “It’s time to put the stones down and pick up towels and wash their feet so they can experience the love of God.” Amen. 

So to my gay friends and family, I love you. And I am so sorry for all the judgments and rejection you have endured. I can’t even imagine the pain you have experienced through the years with all the judgments you have faced, some in the name of “God” and for that I am so sorry. I don’t believe that is ever what God intended for you to feel or endure. I am so so sorry for the pain you have endured. And I hope that you know God loves you right where you are, just as He loves me right where I am. You are precious in His sight, He created you with the same care and love He created everyone else.

So Heidi, yes come to Church, all are welcome. Come as you are.

You are loved. 

God loves us all. 

Daily Grace to you.

Love,

Dani

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