Well it was bound to happen. I am pretty sure I have lost out on my opportunity to serve as a church planter in the denomination.
For the last couple of months, I have been in various meetings with decision makers in the denomination in order that I might be considered for a potential Church Planting position. The position was initially brought to my attention by the regional super intendant. He believed that I was a perfect fit for the position and started singing my praises to all that would listen. Soon at the denominational conference, my wife and I met with the head of Church Planting and had a conversation with him as well as the super intendant.
Everything was progressing along just fine but there was always a bit of the elephant in the room. See during one of our many conversations on the position, the local super intendant asked me if I was “with him” on the current denominational position on human sexuality. My answer was an abrupt “No, I stand with the Gospel not with any denomination.” He seemed like he was okay with this because he thought that meant I wanted to make sure that Homosexuals knew definitively that they were sinners and that I would have no part in anyway with a marriage ceremony. He was wrong.
This became abundantly clear once we started to get into the meat and potatoes of the current position on Human Sexuality. The super intendant told me that if I participated in anyway in a union ceremony for Homosexual couples that I could lose my ordination. This was true for even praying at a homosexual wedding.
There were a couple problems with this. First, I have already prayed at a homosexual wedding so whoops… Second, I firmly believe that this is the absolute worst position we as a denomination could take and finally I sort of told him that his position was asinine. Needless to say, our conversation after that started to spiral. I told him that it made no sense if our goal was to show others the love and grace that God showed us. I argued that if we weren’t allowed to pray at homosexual weddings we ought not pray at second marriages or marriages of people who are liars. I tried desperately to get him to see how destructive this policy was to the future of people coming to Christ but truthfully it fell on deaf ears.
I don’t blame him really. For that matter I even understand why his ears would be deaf. The Bible does not have a lot of positive things to say about homosexuality.
The problem is that the Bible doesn’t have a lot of positive things to say about anything that we consider sin so if you have humility and can recognize your sins then you can recognize the log in your own eye. In the church we like to gloss over parts of the Bible until we need them. No one likes to be reminded that we shouldn’t judge but should rather show mercy because mercy triumphs over judgement, unless of course they are in need of mercy. Otherwise Christians are the first to demand harsh mandatory sentences. It is incredibly easy to condemn the other if we don’t have to live under that condemnation.
However, in this Easter week I want to offer the opposite of condemnation; Grace. This week we are literally celebrating the salvation of the human race from their sins through the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The entire narrative of Easter is centered around Grace! We didn’t deserve Grace but rather it is given freely to us at someone else’s cost. So how about we show that grace to others.
I often think about the story of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus separating people into two camps. Either you are sheep and Christ welcomes you into the Kingdom or you are a goat and he sends you away. I desperately want to be a sheep. I want to stand before God and be welcomed into the kingdom. I think about this story a lot because I think about not only me but everyone I have ever met will also stand before Christ. I think about the kid I made fun of in grade school standing before Christ. I think of the motorist I flicked off, or the telemarketer I cussed out. I think about these people standing before God and him asking them why they never knew him. I wonder if in their response they will mention me.
I have lived a life full of Sin. I am a desperate sinner in need of God’s grace. I cannot make myself righteous before the Lord and I have no desire to stop people from coming to Him that can’t either.
I am far more worried about stopping people from meeting him than I am from bringing too many people to meet him.
So just like that my career as a pastor came crashing to a halt. It lasted 1 position and all of about 13 months. I am finishing up my interim pastoral work but in the coming weeks they will have me replaced. I harbor no ill will to the denomination and will continue to be a part of the daily life of it. I desire to continue to fight for the future of the denomination as well as the Church.
I have faith that God has the power to redeem all things, both my sinful state as well as my seminary degree.