Lead Stories

Homosexuals and the church

"Homosexuals and the church" Continued...

Reality #4

HOMOSEXUALS AND HETEROSEXUALS HOPE IN GRACE TOGETHER

New identity in Jesus is not simply individual, but communal. In Jesus, we who were enemies are now brothers and sisters.[21] We who used and abused one another now love one another. We stand together in grace.[22] But we also struggle together. Our new identity does not preclude temptation or hardship. Old cravings still hunt and haunt us.[23] New deceptions wait in the shadows to ambush us. If “change” means the homosexual will never hear the voice of homoerotic desire, then maybe metamorphosis is delusionary. But what fornicator, thief, or liar who has turned to Jesus never expects to hear an invitation back to lusting, stealing, or deceiving? Therefore, we “pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it.”[24] We “exhort one another every day”[25] and set our “hope fully on the grace that will be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”[26] Our current struggles are not the final word! Our ultimate hope is fulfilled in the new heaven and the new earth.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[27]

Over the past several years, our church has asked God to teach us how to speak faithful and helpful words to those who struggle with SSA. The fruit of this endeavor has just begun to emerge, but it is full of grace. For example, Jill has been a member of our church for several years. Yet only two or three people knew about her lesbian past. As our church began to speak more freely, biblically, and compassionately about homosexuality, she became convinced that God wanted her to share her story—all of it. This was terrifying to her. She was happily married and had grown children, and she feared what her kids would think. She also was actively involved in many ministries in the church. Would people label her? Would they lose confidence in her and pull away? The Holy Spirit gave Jill grace to share her testimony publicly and privately, and she began to notice a pattern. “Those I have told who have a rich view of grace and a personal understanding of their own sin are the most able to rejoice with me at what God has done. Those relationships have been unaffected or even enriched by my transparency.” Isn’t that exactly what Jesus said to Simon, “He who is forgiven [much], loves [much]”?[28] A church characterized by a small experience of forgiveness will be characterized by a small expression of love. As our grasp of the gospel of Jesus grows, our awareness of our own sinfulness deepens, and our experience of the grace of God expands. “Acceptable” sins and “unacceptable” sins merge. Teenagers and adults open up their closets and begin to walk in the light. God uses the very “sinners” who intimidated or threatened us to expose our own hearts and bring us back to Himself.[29]

This excerpt from Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church is reprinted with permission. ©2013 Ambassador International. All rights reserved.

Peter Hubbard
Peter Hubbard

Peter has been the teaching pastor at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, S.C., since the church began in 1992. He and his wife Karen have been married for 25 years and have four children.

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