—Moses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
The debate over homosexuality is a hot-button issue about many things: moral right and wrong, human rights, love, happiness, natural law, the definition of marriage…
As important as these issues are, I don’t believe they should be the focus, at least not for Christians. The debate over homosexuality should be a discussion about one thing and only one thing: what brings us life.
And this focus should apply not just to homosexuality but to all behavior, sexual and otherwise.
Here’s a question: Why did Jesus die for us? If you have ever been to Sunday school or watched a sporting event you know about John 3:16—
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Jesus said later in the same book of the Bible that He came so that we might “have life and life more abundantly.” Sadly, that is not often the message of Christians. Too often we reduce Christianity to a list of moral rights and wrongs rather than an invitation into abundant life with God. We wag our fingers at Christians and non-Christians alike when we see what we believe is unbiblical behavior; we judge and scoff at and scold people for not being “good.”
When we reduce Christianity to a list of rights and wrongs we say that Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection were God’s way of making bad people good. Sadly, we turn God into some kind of supernatural Santa Clause who keeps a list of who has been naughty and nice and doles out eternal presents or lumps of coal.
Like many of you, I don’t want to worship that kind of god either.
But…what if Jesus’ death was not about making bad people good? What if it was only about offering life to dead people? If the latter is the case, then the Bible can be no longer viewed as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth; rather, through its stories God tells us and shows us the way that people fully alive with Him normally live, and Jesus’ life is the exemplar. Further, the Bible shows us of God’s eagerness to be with us and the lengths He will go to help us to participate in His life.
Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, Jesus came to offer life to dead people.
I know a little something about living without God—living as a dead person with my dead-person behaviors. I wanted to be the master of my own universe, to fulfill all of my own desires.
I know from my own experience that dead people act out because they don’t know any better, it is simply “natural” for them to act this way. You Christians sometimes got mad at me, but I didn’t know any better. Rarely was I invited into life; rather, it was pointed out to me that I was acting badly.
It doesn’t matter whether the dead-person behavior born out of greed, pride, gluttony, power-mongering, anger, or lust (homosexuality or premarital heterosexual sex)—and the list goes on and on—dead people will naturally do the things of dead people. Sure, dead people can perform good and great acts, too, but even those acts come from the vestiges of God’s morality since we are all made in His image and will not in and of themselves bring life to the dead.
Sin is not the things we do that are wrong, where “wrong” is defined as acting against biblical rules. No. Sin is our state of being separated from God. When God calls us to turn to Him and then to obey Him, He does so only because wants to unite us to Himself, He wants to bring us into a relationship with Him where we will find the abundant life He has for us; therefore, following His way for us to live is simply the way people fully alive in relationship with Him try to live their lives.
God is inviting us into the fullness of abundant life; He is not an all-powerful Killjoy…
God is inviting us into the fullness of abundant life; He is not an all-powerful Killjoy trying to ruin our fun and quench our desires. Obeying God does not prevent us from enjoying life. Quite the contrary! Obeying God frees us to live the abundant life He wants for us. We are oppressed only when we allow ourselves to be held captive by our attempts to satiate our own unbridled passions and desires.
This is the heart of the Bible message: God only wants for us to be our best, to be fully alive, to become the person He created us to be, which only occurs when we are in relationship with Him. This is real Love, His for us.
But, participating in God’s life takes effort, just like any relationship worth having. I must put forth effort into changing my old, dead-person habits for the sake of our relationship, relying on the power of God’s Holy Spirit within me to increasingly transform me over my lifetime into a person fully and abundantly alive and participating in His life.
Yes, I still battle many of my old, dead-person habits. And lately, it seems, God has been unfailing in pointing out to me just how much I still act like a dead person. Curiously, His pointing this out gives me hope because it reminds me of His love for me and that I can only find abundant life with Him. And it helps me to have compassion for the still dead people and for other dead-acting Christians and makes me want to offer them the same hope I am finding with Him.
God is calling each one of us out of dead-person life and into a life fully alive with Him. God is love and can only act toward us out of love; however, His love for us precludes Him from accepting something less for us that He has intended.
So, the choices in our lives, Christian and non-Christian alike, are not about right and wrong and who has the moral high-ground. All of our daily choices of behavior really boil down to a single choice that we repeat every moment of every day: it is the choice between behaving as a human being alive with God or behaving as one dead and apart from God.
Respond to God’s invitation. Choose life.I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days…
—Moses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)