Michael

“Where love is, God is.” ~Henry Drummond

Just before moving to Kenya in my early 30’s, I was pastor of an all-Anglo congregation in a rapidly transitioning neighborhood. I proclaimed ad nauseam that the church should mirror its community, and we eventually made slow strides that direction. In attempt to set an example for others to follow, I made arrangements with a nearby low-income multi-family complex to hold a weekly evening Bible study in its small management office building. I advertised apartment-to-apartment and was pleasantly surprised by the turnout on our first night. It was a Heinz 57 gathering if I’ve ever witnessed one. The collective appearance of the twenty individuals that showed was so diverse as to be comical. One young man stood out from the others because I became acquainted with him best. 

Michael was a chain smoker who owned nothing but a pair of tattered jeans, an ochre stained white t-shirt, and a cigarette lighter. We struck up conversation, and Michael told me that he had been a heavy drug user and that he struggled at the simplest of tasks these days. I learned he was older than he looked behind the whispered and nicotine streaked face, and for reasons God only knew, he felt comfortable talking to me. I began visiting Michael regularly in order to encourage him, meet some of his basic needs, and share Christ along the way. We would converse in his smoke thick living space and then he would give me a hug, initially against my will, before making my escape and re-emerging into fresh air. After numerous such afternoon visits, Michael confided in me that he was gay. To be completely honest, I initially pulled away because such a lifestyle repulses me, but perhaps because I had become so well acquainted with him, I pushed beyond my impulse to run and continued the conversation. I am glad that I did. One afternoon several weeks later, Michael bowed his head along with mine and gave what remained of his life to Christ. I could not know at the time, and still am not fully aware of all that changed for Michael that day and the days that followed, but I can say what changed in me. I learned that it is possible to remain firm in biblical conviction against sin while lovingly leaning the sinner toward Christ. 

Believers in America are watching the culture march away from biblical morality with increasing speed. For instance, I read this week that the latest version of Beauty and the Beast has a gay scene between LeFou and Gaston. Disney just aired its first-ever gay cartoon kiss, and animators of Moana say they wouldn’t rule out an LGBT Disney princess in the future. While I abhor and actively oppose such perversion and blatant disregard for biblical morality, I will attempt to remember Michael, and refuse to jettison relationships that may be the only chance some have to see the Gospel for what God intended and not what Hollywood condemns. Thank God, Jesus loves indiscriminately, and I must take my cue from him. Rarely does anyone ever come to Christ without passing through a meaningful relationship with a disciple. Sharing Christ is always relational because we were created for relationship. For God’s sake, refuse to compromise biblical conviction for yourself or your family, but for Michael’s sake, allow yourself space to love indiscriminately as the highest imitation of our Lord.

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