Would the Church open the door for Jesus to come in?
31st Dec 2005 - It was new year's eve at Tanjung Pagar Road where the Gay pubs are located. Nearby, there was a Methodist Church. A young man, a road side evangelist with a guitar was proclaiming that "God loves you". He did not play his guitar. But like a broken record player, he kept repeating "God loves you" to the many young men passing by, many of whom are Gay. "Do you know how much God loves you", he seemingly shouted. "This much" as he streched his hands apart that declaring that Jesus died for you. But no one noticed.
The young man was standing infront of the Methodist church and probably was a member as the church was having its own new year celebration. The man was standing infront of a church who has without provocation came against Gays. They were condemned as sinners. While this man was preaching the love of God, he had no speaking rights for the passers by saw not the love of God but the hyprocrisy of men, the prejudice, and the evil that is perpetuated in the name of Jesus. They did not hear the young evangelist.
The man though carrying a bible and seemingly an evangelist was far removed from the Christ of the bible. Jesus did not come standing on the road side declaring His righteousness and superiority over the people. He did not come to condemn. He came to be with men, to be Christ in their midst. Would Jesus do the same as the evangelist? Not likely. Jesus came to identify with His own. He put on the garments of flesh as a man to identify with us and to live amongst us, whilst the young evangelist was seemingly from another world, totally detached from the lives and experiences of the Gays who walked passed. Jesus would have joined the streams of people going to MOX and the Happy Gay night club and made friends with the patrons. His style of evangelism was to show forth the love of God rather than to declare a love which nobody can relate to and worst still despised because of the inconsistancy of the modern day church. It was Emmanuel or "Christ with us".
Many gays walking past would have felt that accepting Jesus Christ was tantamount to being forced to deny their homosexuality as if it is a choice. For a straight person, this would never be considered nor a demand by the church. Rev Dr Lonnie Latham, 59, the former Director of missions, and now Senior Pastor of First South Tusla Baptist, and a committee member of the Southern Baptist concention spoke at the Baptist Convention urging its 42,000 churches to befriend gays and lesbians and try to convince them that they can become heterosexual "if they accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their 'sinful, destructive lifestyle."
When we linked the sanctity of the sacrifice of Christ with unrelated and unecesarry demands that goes contrary to what Jesus required, we deny Christ to others and distort the message of the gospel. We should be vary of stepping out of the covering of God's grace when we judged and condemn others unrighteously and put a burden of condemnation on those that are innocent. When it is done at a national level impacting thousands, we may bring upon ourself the same measure of harsh and unjust judgement we have used against others.
In the case of Rev Dr Lonnie, on 04 Jan 2006, he was arrested on a lewdness charge for propositioning a male plainclothes policeman outside a motel. The arrest took place in the parking lot of the Habana Inn, which is in an area where the public has complained about male prostitutes flagging down cars. The plainclothes officers was investigating these complaints. He asked the undercover officer to join him in his hotel room for oral sex. Caught red handed, for a crime of sexual immorality, he has much to loose. Ironically, it was a male prostitute not a female hence he was found to be involved in a homosexual way which he so admantly condemned. Made far worst that he condemned marriage between loving gay couples whilst he himself solicit for sex outside this model of loving relatioship be-it straight or gay. The outcome would be very harsh as he now looses much of his reputation and standing as a result of this short moment of indiscretion. But still trying to justify his actions and self righteousness, as Rev Lonnie left jail, he said "I was set up. I was in the area pastoring to police." Habana Inn for which Rev Lonnie booked in is an infamous Gay motel.
After many decades where Christian Evangelists used their power and community support unfairly to strongly condemned Gays without fear of any reprecussions and concerns for truth behind their message, they have created much animosity in the gay community and have not resulted in many "salvations" amongst gays. As Gays become more visisble and accepted, year 2006 may mark the start a concrete reaction against Christian Fundamentalist Evangelists as a whole. In one of the first signs of a successfull grass root reaction against years of hostility, Gays at the Cardiff City Council successfully called for a cancellation of a civic reception for internationally renowned evangelist Luis Palau because of his "extreme evangelical beliefs." at the Welsh Revival Centenary Celebrations. The very unjust manner in which Gays are treated as a whole for decades by the church, has resulted in a growing attitude in Britain and Europe against Christianity itself. The bible says that if the salt looses its taste, then what it is good for. i.e. If the church becomes obsessively anti gay instead of preaching the gospel which it is mandated to do, then it has lost its main purpose and becomes ineffective and counter productive to its mandate.
The Church of Laodicea is a type of Church, some say, the "End Time" church. It is a church that is not hot, not focused on the gospel message but defocused into wealth, prosperity, and action against the minorities such as gays. It is neither cold unlike many churches who has strayed into belief that all religions may lead to God. For the mainstream evangelical church believes strongly in the word of God and in salvation through Jesus alone. Self sufficiency and a centrality of self and importance of wealth and power has become a major focus. In America, the Christian Right has aligned itself with the Republicans who are traditionally the wealthy and educated, the "haves". The Laodicean church is the church which is most difficult to address - you can't call them back sliden as they apear on the surface to be so on-fire for Jesus, demanding adherence to God's laws. But a Church that is of Christ it is not, for it rejects and persecutes the outcasts for whom Jesus came to identify (Just like the pharisees who were champions of the law). Instead of aligning themselves with the poor and outcasts, it has aligned itself with the rich, the powerful, and the wealthy. Outwardly, the Laodicean church may appear to be prosperous, and pride itself on being bible based, but inwardly it is poor and blind to spiritual truths.
But God has not given up on the Laodicean Church. He will restore them, not with fire and judgement but He will stand at the church door and knock that they may received Him once more instead of the worldly wealth and prejudice. The Church will not see Jesus in person knocking at the door. Guess who would Jesus send to be His representatives? They would see Gays knocking at the door for acceptance. For, when the Church accepts the least of one such as this, they accepted Christ in their midst.
Would the Church opens its door for Christ to dine, to have fellowship once more with Him? or would they close the door to Christ not knowing that He has sent Gays, the least in the community, to minister to the greatest that the first may be the last, and the last the first - that all is made equal in Christ. He who has ears let him hear and understand.
Returning to Tanjung Pagar Road. How ironic, the young evangelist thought that He was proclaiming the love of God to Gays streaming past him, but know he not that it was he himself who needed to receive, to welcome gays that that the Church may welcome Christ.