Did You See the Demonstration on Tuesday?

The video of antihomosexual demonstrators I showed last Sunday during the sermon seemed like something that happens in other cities but not in Columbia. The video might have even felt a little bit exaggerated or “over the top.” But after what we saw Tuesday I don’t think that anyone can say that anymore. I first got wind of it when my wife called saying that as she was driving my oldest son, Nathan, home from Jeff Jr. they saw a group of people at Stadium and Providence holding up anti-gay signs. While she hadn’t seen the signs clearly, Nathan had and said, “Hey, that’s exactly what dad was preaching against on Sunday.” (Parental note: I guess he does listen to the sermon more than I thought.) Not long afterwards others from the church called the office confirming the story. Then later that evening, I received an email from a guy who attends the church. It seems that he was so saddened by what he saw that he pulled his car over, approached the demonstrators, and struck up a conversation with them. He had a CD of my sermon in his car so he gave it to them and asked them to listen to it. And then he took the pictures you see.

All of this gives us just one more chance to reflect on the kind of church and the kind of Christians that we want to be. What message do we want to communicate? Do we want people to hear from us that God hates them or that God loves them? Which message did Jesus communicate when he was on earth?

If you read back through the gospels, you’ll definitely find that Jesus does have harsh words for people. But the key point to notice is that Jesus only has harsh words for the self-righteous or those who are confident in their own goodness. When a person already knows their sinfulness, when a person already knows their own brokenness, Jesus is always compassionate toward them. He never compromises the truth about their sin but the truth is shared mercifully.

So here’s the ironic truth. The demonstrators with their judgmental signs and attitudes are more like the self-righteous Pharisees than the homosexuals they are protesting. If Jesus were ministering on earth today, he’d probably have some pretty harsh words for them. And the people the demonstrators are attacking are often just the kind of people who Jesus had the most compassion on.

Which group do you identify with? Are you more like the self-righteous demonstrators attacking people who sin differently than you do? Or are you more like the sinners who know how dependent they are on God’s grace?

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