|Easter – A Reminder that Jesus died for the Gay community too|
At this season of Lent and Easter, we are reminded of the rhetoric heard from the likes of Pastor Derek Hong and Pastor Rony Tan based on their American Christian Right agenda that Gays epitomized a World System, which sought to destroy Christianity. Proclaimed loudly from Christian Post SG, this was taken as truth by the Christian community as a whole. However, during this Easter, we should be mindful that it was the Jewish bible believing and God fearing religious establishment (no different from our modern day mega Christian churches, and our Anglican/Methodist Churches) that actually planned for Jesus to be put on the Cross. There were no legions of Gay Angels prodding Jesus at the sides or mocking Him.
Jesus was mocked by those who espoused a biblical world view / lifestyle. They challenged His claim to be the Son of God. Whilst He was dying and in grave pain at the Cross, they spit on Him, and dared Him to save Himself. They did not see the suffering Christ, but in their self righteous legalistic religious view could only point the finger of condemnation even when Jesus was dying at the Cross. We see this often in the Christian Church, the numerous articles to the Newspaper Forums from clergy blaming gays for the high HIV+ rates. In the heart hardened by the religious Law, there is no room for Grace, nor mercy. Even love is at best conditional.
We often focus on the passion of Christ at Easter. We seldom focus on the role of the then Religious Right who used every means to find evidence, fabricate truths, and lobby hard the Roman authorities to hang Jesus at the Cross. To the bible believing religious right, Jesus was worse than the worst of criminals (Just as gays are singled out and highlighted by Christians far more than people who had abortions, adulterers and divorcees, or even non Christians). We spin all sorts of lies against the Gay community and have the audacity to call it the “Gay agenda” when it is our agenda. Our self righteousness clouds our hearts, minds and vision until the end justifies the means. The Pharisees and the High Priests conjured up all sorts of false evidence against Jesus, but they could not see their own sins. The irony and problem with religion is that we often could not see the log of sin in our eyes, whilst the smallest spec of dust in others is amplified manifold.
Jesus must have really exasperated the Religious Right. He refused to condemn those they deemed less worthy than them to enter the Kingdom of God. Instead, He lived with them, and became a friend of “sinners”. We often consider the “sinners” as the general community, but this is not biblical. The World System did not consider themselves as sinners or needing Christ redemption. Instead, it was the have not’s, the rejected, the persecuted, the outcasts who were considered as the worst sinners by the religious world system who found refuge in a benevolent and caring God. They accepted Jesus, and Jesus accepted them as His own, as His family. If Jesus was here today, He would have identified with the Gay community. After two thousand years, when one reflect on Jesus suffering with great agony at the Cross, you can still hear the loud voices and echoes of the bible believing religious mob, crying “He deserved it, He was a friend of sinners”.
It is often said that “Love is God” ie God is a verb, an action, epitomized by the Love commandments. If “Love is God” then there was no need for Jesus, nor for Christ’s suffering at the Cross. It becomes no different than the Jewish Faith, the Laws summarized as Loving God with all our heart, soul and mind, and loving others as we love ourselves. Jesus was only referring to a common saying in Jerusalem when asked about how to gain eternal salvation, and not giving us a new commandment per say. It was a summary of religious aspirations which did not do any good, for they ended up killing their own Messiah. The Law, even if it were to be summarized as the Love commandments only lead to increased self righteousness, and self centeredness. We do love, we often love ourselves only.
Jesus however proclaimed a radical “Good News” Gospel, that “God is Love”, that salvation is a free gift by God’s love, grace and mercy through faith in Christ Jesus death and resurrection and not by doing good even loving others. Love is personified in God. God becomes a noun, Jesus becomes a real person, the reason for Easter. He suffered and died physically, and after 3 days became alive physically as a promise and a pre-cursor to us being resurrected with Christ one day. He had to die, so that we can be reconciled to God, that His life, His love can flow through us.
Without being connected to God through accepting His death and resurrection for our sins, we will be disconnected from the source of love. We will love only with our own strength. We will have no power, no electricity to tap upon other than our own carnal self. However, when we are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, all power is available to us. We are to empty ourselves and be filled with God’s Holy Spirit so that His Love will flow through us to the nations. One cannot successfully follow outwardly or walk in the footsteps of Jesus as a religious example or align with His love commandments, for He must be residing within us. He can only gainfully reside within us, if we have room for Jesus in the inns of our lives. Most will leave Him out in the stable to sleep in.
Religion teaches us to be self centered in gaining redemption points to heaven for doing good, but true Christianity is neither Law nor Love centered, but of emptying of ourselves and being filled in return an incredible measure of God’s love and grace so that we can be ministers to Christ to the nations. We love not because we choose to love, but because love is inside us. We love not out of a motivation to follow the law, we love because He first love us, ie because of the love sowed into our soft hearts by God.
As Jesus hanged there at the Cross completely naked, exposed, He had emptied Himself out of everything, even His own life sacrificed for our own sins. For Jesus knew, the start of true redemption is when we reach the point humility, the point of grace at the Cross when we realized that we cannot save ourselves however much we do good works. We have to empty ourselves. We come to the point of understanding the measure of Christ suffering for us, and the amazing grace and mercy available for us when we chose to repent and identify with Christ death and resurrection for our sins. When we are able to empty ourselves of ourselves in forgiving others and bearing no bitterness when greatly wronged and broken, God comes in to fill the void of our lives.
Jesus was despised, forsaken and rejected by the Religious Right, and today He identifies with us as queer/Gay folk whose lives has been denied basic rights of existence, employment, and marriage. He was there, they took everything from Him, even His very dignity laying naked before all at the Cross. Jesus suffered that He may become our true shepherd to cloth us and lead us to rest in the quiet streams of living waters. He bidst you to come and taste for abundant life is awaiting where we are finally loved, accepted and given dignity and equality. The Love of God abounds to us today. He calls us from the Cross of Calvary that we need not suffer again for He has suffered at the Cross for us.
It has been more than 11 years, since I sat at the entrance of City Harvest Church at the old Hollywood theatre in Payar Lebar at midnight on Christmas, sitting at the front doorsteps - the Church' roller shutter doors/gates closed, as I praised God playing my guitar and waiting to be taken to the Christmas countdown. I remembered singing and praising God “O Lord You’re Beautiful”. It was a real sacrifice of praise God when life was so tough with the realization that one was gay. It has been a continual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and a test of faith for the last decade when we have lost so much. We have been so broken and humbled –our lives emptied with our basic rights and dignity taken away but choosing to forgive instead of insisting on our rights for judgment. Even as everything has been stolen from us, and we are left with nothing but suffering yet as we respond with mercy and forgiveness, surely God will fill our emptied and broken hearts and Spirit with His Love, Grace, Mercy and compassion for people. As a broken people, we become the channels of God’s Love to the nations when we chose to fill it with God's Love and presence. When we lose our lives, we will gain it anew in Christ Jesus.
“Jesus you are so beautiful. It is your face that we seek, for your eyes and love abounds to me. Thank you for loving and accepting the Gay community when we have been so rejected by the church and denied of having the opportunity to love and marry our partners and companions. It is Your Love that sustains us, Your acceptance and grace. Do something about our heart that has hardened up because of how your church had abused us and our daily difficulty and struggles to survive. Replace the lamp of our first love. Teach us to be like little children to believe that You are good God and will do something beautiful for the Gay community as we wait for your Year of Jubilee. May Your Love and Faith abounds to us and keep us afloat through the raging storms of life. We are exposed, shamed, laid bare for all to spit upon, yet You will come by and cover us up.”
O Lord You're Beautiful (Keith Green)
O Lord You’re Beautiful
O Lord my Faith is small
O Lord You’re Beautiful