EMBRACING YOUR JESUS CRISIS

There is an old story about a gathering of people listening to recitations of the 23rd Psalm. One man everyone wanted to hear was a well-known actor with a deep melodious voice. He wasn’t a particularly spiritual man, but he appreciated the Psalm and was happy to comply. He stood and delivered it beautifully and everyone was duly impressed. Then a very old gentleman, one with no great skill at public speaking, but a man whom everyone respected, was also urged to recite. He slowly rose to his feet and in a quiet voice quoted the Psalm from memory. As he spoke a hush fell over the room, a silence and peace no one wanted to disturb even after he sat down. Finally, the actor spoke the truth everyone knew: “I know the Psalm. He knows the Shepherd.”

Many people are like the actor in the story. They say things like: “I’ve read the Bible. The teachings of Jesus are brilliant. I like the idea of going to heaven when I die. As far as religion is concerned, I check the “Christian” box on official forms. But this whole idea of a relationship with God is beyond me. I know other people experience it. I believe they are genuine. But I don’t seem to be able to have it myself and I don’t know why.”

A story from Luke 5:1-11, the story of the calling of the first disciples, offers a clue. Jesus was seated in Simon’s boat, teaching. He finished, turned to Simon (later called Peter) and said, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Now Simon was an experienced fisherman, a concrete, rational businessman. He was also tired. He and his partners had fished all night without a catch. He had every reason to politely decline. What Jesus was asking wasn’t rational. Peter could have cited a dozen reasons why it wouldn’t work.

But Jesus wasn’t thinking about fish. He was working on Peter’s faith, precipitating a crisis in Peter’s life by purposefully, intentionally, and meaningfully pushing him to choose between Peter’s will, intelligence, experience and knowledge, and Jesus’s command. The question was not: would they catch any fish? The question was: would Peter obey?

Peter did obey and the rest, as they say, is history. They caught so many fish that the boats began to sink. But again, it wasn’t about the fish. It was about what happened inside of Peter. “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” he said. In other words, Peter now knew Jesus on a whole new level, knew Jesus as God’s Son, and his shepherd, because when his “Jesus crisis” came, he obeyed. He chose submission over experience, Jesus’s will over Peter’s. Life was never the same for Peter after that day.

The ability to experience a living relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ, and by the presence of the Holy Spirit within, does not depend on a blind leap of faith–far from it. It depends on how we respond to our “Jesus crisis” when he calls us to obey against all experience. And call, he will. Perhaps he already has in your life. Perhaps you’ve had many crises with Jesus and, like the rich young ruler in another story, “went away very sad …” without obeying, never knowing the incredible peace and power that comes from obedience. My prayer for you is that the next time he brings you to that moment of crisis you will, like Peter, obey. I promise you, your life will never be the same.

 

Q&A ON “IF I HAVE GAY CHILDREN” Part 1 Where Gayness Comes From

Last weekend a twenty-something college friend sent a link to a blog by a pastor in the Raleigh, North Carolina area titled IF I HAVE GAY CHILDREN: Four Promises From a Christian Pastor, by John Pavlovitz. My friend asked: I am really wrestling over this. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the content of this pastor’s words? As the Pavlovitz blog seems to be going viral, (I’ve already seen it lauded on facebook), I thought it would be helpful to share part of my reply with you. Mr. Pavlovitz has made the same mistake about human nature, specifically where so-called “gayness” comes from, that most of the culture is making. The two most significant statements in the post are quoted here.

“I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal.”

“If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are… They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be…”

Mr. Pavlovitz has adopted the widely promoted yet unprovable theory that the attractions and behaviors associated with homosexuality are hard-wired into the personality from birth. That makes God responsible for a person’s sexual orientation. Thus they can claim: “It’s not my fault. I’m just being what God made me to be.” That theory not only confuses the dignity of being made in the image of God with Darwinian predestination, but also fails to comprehend the complexity of human personality development and just how mold-able we humans really are. Our personalities, including our attractions and affections toward one or the other sex, are highly complex and can develop along a number of lines. Anyone can be homosexual, or heterosexual, given the right conditions and choices. In the Biblical world-view, there is no such thing as gay or straight. There are male and female, created for each other in the image of God. This is what Jesus taught (see Matthew 19:4-6). Men and women behave in ways that either reflect or reject the Designer’s intent. Either way, they are still men and women designed for each other in the image of God with the ability to choose who and what they will become. “Gayness,” “Straightness,” and all other such definitions of human relations are artificial, post-modern philosophical constructs, imposed upon us by the homosexual movement in the last four decades. They remove us from the pinnacle of creation as creatures with the God-like ability to choose, and reduce us to nothing more than victims of our biology, slaves of our impulses. In other words, homosexuality (“gay,” “questioning” and “transgender” issues) is a developmental disorder generated by the combination of a number of factors including but not limited to: personality type; parental role modeling and behavior within the home of origin; childhood stresses and trauma; peer pressure and peer reference groups; early sexual exposure, experimentation (either in person or vicariously through pornography) and often abuse; parental guidance and disciplinary practices along with cultural acceptance or “normalization,” (Mr. Pavlovitz is now participating in that in the lives of his children and readers) and of course the spiritual dimension. Take all of that – and all of it must be taken into account – mix it together with our sin nature (see Romans 7:7-25) and the successful media onslaught of the last four decades and the potential for gender role and sexual identity confusion is pretty high. What grieves me is that very few people, including pastors, are offering confused young people a well-reasoned and believable alternative approach to the feelings and experiences with which they are struggling. That is what I’ve attempted to do in my previous post titled, I’M NOT GAY and you probably aren’t either. Mr. Pavlovitz also commented on how he, as a Christian pastor, would react to his children if they decided they were gay. I’ll respond to that part of his comments next week.