WARNING: This post contains language that may be offense to some. If you are easily offended by language you may want to skip this article.
5 days before I preached a sermon on homosexuality, I got this comment on my blog.
āKeep your phony ass biggot bullshit and you pious sense of higher status to yourself you price of trash. You can try to stop me all you want but you are still a n****r and a cult leading f*g. No wonder your father didnāt see you for 11 years. Who would be proud of their n****r son starting a cult.ā -Jesus.
I tell you what, Iāve never felt so hated. I wish I could say I his words bounced off me like bullets on superman cause I was wearing my spiritual cape but I canāt.
Nope. No super spiritual response here.
Just a discouraged pastor who wanted to crawl up in a hole and not come out. I know I wonāt get any āhall of faithā votes for saying this but I honestly wanted to quit ministry, life, Jesus and everything.
All because some Internet troll blasted me on my blog. And on twitter. Then on my blog again after bypassing my filter. Then on a new twitter account after I blocked the first one. Then back to my blog on a new IP address. One last twitter account. How about more blog comments?
Over and over again Jesus (as he called himself) berated me and called me the ān wordā more times than I care to remember. Over 50 comments later, I was sitting in a corner balling my eyes out because I felt so hated by āJesusā.
In desperation I prayed for Jesus to make āJesusā go away.
I asked for him to make me feel better, but he didnāt. Jesus didnāt make me feel better, no, he did something better. He saidā¦
āNow you know what it sometimes āfeelsā like to be gay. Now you know what the gay community has to face from family/neighbors/the church.ā
And BOOM, just like that, God blind-sided me with a 100m/hr curve ball that literally left me breathless and in tears.
Itās like God used the words of an ignorant troll to cut open my heart open then he filled it with love for the gay community.
I literally didnāt know what to do but cry and say sorry.
Thatās how I started my sermon on homosexuality 5 days after āJesusā trolled me online.
I swear you could hear a pin drop. I guess no one expected me to start a sermon on homosexuality by saying sorry.
Iām so sorry.
Iām so sorry for anyone who has ever felt hated like I did because they are ______ (LGBTQA).
Iām sorry for anyone whoās ever heard a parent say youāre no longer welcome here because youāre ____.
Iām sorry for anyone whoās ever felt unwelcome in the church because they are _______.
Iām sorry for anyone whoās ever felt like āJesusā hated them.
Jesus doesnāt hate you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. I donāt know if weāll ever agree on the the issue of homosexuality, but what I do know is Jesus loves you. I know that he loves you and I also know that I havenāt done a good job of showing you that and for that Iām so sorry.
Something like that.
I said something like that, cried, read from the bible, cried, said sorry a couple more times and talked about how bad I hope our community is someday known for loving the gay community.
Wanna hear something crazy?
I made a bigger difference in the gay community through that one sermon than I have in over 10 years of ministry. Why?
Because it was the first time I really cared about gay people and they could tell.
That night I shook hands, hugged and became friends with several gay people (most of who disagreed with me theologically). I also got emails from others who admitted theyāve always felt hated by Jesus and the church until that night.
But Sammy, (what some of you are thinking right now), how do you love someone whose actions or behaviors you find really unacceptable? How can I love someone who I believe is living in sin?
Great question. Do your thing Mr. C.S Lewis.
āThere is someone that I love even though I donāt approve of what he does. There is someone I accept though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive though he hurts the people I love the most. That person isā¦ā¦me.ā
(If you canāt say amen, say ouch).
Itās true isnāt it?
Itās true that you and I have plenty of practice loving, forgiving and taking care of someone who disgusts us at times. And itās true that there are plenty of things we do that we donāt like but we can love ourselves and accept ourselves without approving of everything we do.
Please donāt miss the point. This post is not about what the bible teaches about homosexuality or excusing your moral standards.
This post is about the hypocrisy in my heart (and maybe yours?). This post is a reminder to extend grace and love to the gay community like we readily extend it to ourselves. Or like they extend it to us.
Guess what the LGBTQA community in Toledo said when we asked them what they thought about Christians.
āWe are hesitant to say anything because we are stereotyped a lot and we definitely donāt want to do that to ALL Christians.ā
When I read that, I cried. I cried because their response confirmed that Iām such a hypocrite. I cried because when I looked at the gay community, I no longer saw a threat or an āissueā to debate. I saw people who felt hated by Jesus.
I cried because for the first time in my life, I wanted gay people to know Jesus loved them more than I wanted them to know my theological position.
Why do you think so many in the gay community feel so hated by Jesus and the church? Do you think itās possible for us to disagree and still love people radically?