Today was the first ever Tupelo Pride event “celebrating the progress of the community in Northeast, Mississippi.” (Daily Journal Article) The event focuses on the advancement and the acceptance of the LGBTQ community here in Tupelo and the surrounding areas. As our mayor, Jason Shelton says that those participating are “exercising their first amendment rights in a peaceful manner.” I hope that we as Northeast MS Christians will use our first amendment rights to make the most of our rights in Christ to respond with the peace and grace that we find in our Savior.
I will readily admit that homosexuality in any form is a sin. Scripture is clear, and because Scripture is clear, I believe that God is clear. I will also readily admit that gluttony is also a sin according to Scripture and therefore God is clear on it as well. The difference is that most of us are comfortable with our sin being ignored while another’s is preached against. There are a couple of issues that we need to consider before we respond and react to the Pride parade today.
1. Take the log out of your own eye first
Jesus clearly said in Matthew 7:5, “5 Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” The hard work of confronting another person's sin begins with first facing your own sin. Just because you can point to a passage of scripture and tell someone else in sin doesn’t mean you don’t first need to examine your own life and heart with Scripture.
God prepares our hearts and checks our motives when we take the time to do the hard work in our own hearts. It’s easy to point to others, it's gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to see the immensity of your own sin before God. It humbles you, restores you to the Lord, and reminds you that you have no hope by the grace of God and faith in Christ. This is the clarity that God wants you to have because it puts you in a place of right motives as well.
2. Take care when removing the speck from the eye of another.
I don’t like people touching my eyes, in fact, I don’t know many people who like someone to reach toward their eye. I don’t want to lose the impact of the imagery that Jesus uses here. Before you reach toward someone’s eye to take out a splinter- make sure you can see clearly. I think we need to consider the delicacy required to take out the splinter from someone else’s eye.
Confronting sin isn’t something we are called to do with a hammer. It’s something we are called to do with the precision and care of a surgeon with a scalpel. If done wrong this can cause even more damage and pain. I believe we can infer from the illustration Jesus uses that we should gain some proximity and relationship in the effort to confront sin. I think it only makes sense that our demeanor and attitude should be filled with humility, love, grace, and hope.
3. Show the same grace that God has shown to you
Remember the grace God has revealed to you through Christ. Look to the cross to see the two logs that Jesus hung on to save you from the log that is in your eye. You need Jesus, you need grace, you need the promise and hope that God offers through faith in Jesus Christ.
The good news of Christ came to you through someone else. That person told you about sin and the consequence of hell for all those who don’t repent and believe in the name of Jesus. Make sure that you bring the good news to those who you are telling the bad news. Make sure they know that you too need Christ. Be as gracious, patient, and loving to those who are living in rebellion to the Lord and His ways as God has been to you.
4. Don’t sin when you point out another’s sin
Don’t ridicule, look down on, hate, mistreat, or slander those you are confronting or reposting too. Jesus was mocked for saving you. Jesus was abused as he died to save you. Jesus was looked down upon and hated by those who crucified Him. Don’t treat other that way, instead share the truth with humility, respond with grace, and react with love to the one you are confronting.
5. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the gospel and beautiful confusion of grace
The gospel message is filled with a mysterious and beautiful grace. It is a message of hope to those who don’t deserve it. It is a message of salvation to those who should have lost it. It is a message of friendship and restoration to those who are enemies of the Lord. Be a part of that mystery by being gracious rather than hateful. It is true that God hates sin. He hates it so much that He condemns sinners to hell. But, He loves so much that He sent His own Son to die in place of sinners so that all who would repent and believe would be saved and have eternal life rather than eternal hell. (John 3)
How you respond to those in the Tupelo LGBTQ community will say a great deal about your own understanding of grace. Homosexuality is a sin, but Jesus didn’t come to save those who are perfect, He came to save all of us who are sinful. The ground at the cross is even and open to all who will deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
Regardless of the sin, God has called us to put each sin to death to walk in holiness. You cannot walk in holiness while pursuing sin of any kind; therefore both homosexuality and gluttony are cause for repentance.
As a pastor, I hope to make the most of my first amendment rights to share openly, honestly, and humbly about the grace of God toward sinners. I want to take advantage of the freedom God has given me in Christ and in our country to make disciples of others by teaching them observe all that Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
May it be said of us that we brought the good news with the bad news in a way that resembles our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
By His Grace,