Where to even start? I don’t know how to narrow it down and at this point, and am feeling nearly brain dead, so I won’t give a full report just yet because I know I wouldn’t do it justice. In time, over the next several weeks, I will share with you more in detail. But for now, I just want to tell you about the thing that has struck me the most about being here, about the people I have been meeting, gay Christians. (Keep in mind, when I use the term “gay Christians” in this post, I am referring to those present at this conference who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, and who have varying perspectives on what God requires of them – some are committed to celibacy, others to monogomous relationships, etc.)
I am floored by the sincerity of so many of the people I have met in their desire for the Lord, their love for Scripture, their pursuit to be more like Jesus, their passion for growing in their faith, their surrender to his leadership in their lives, and their longing to respond with Christ’s humility, grace, and love to those who have mistreated and abused them. I’ve asked myself (and I’ve asked them) why they still want anything to do with Jesus, with his Church, and with his leadership in their lives, when they have endured all that they have from their churches, their families, and other Christians (I don’t think it would really encourage me to want to follow Christ if I had been treated as they have). They respond with simple and profound answers – that serving Jesus isn’t about the payoff, that following God is the only thing that there is for them, that their faith is not something they can remove, that God is bigger than their circumstances, that there is no other option but to follow Him. I am so humbled when I hear how they have been kicked out of their churches, yet in the next breath they express how much they hunger for discipleship, accountability, reconciliation, and communities of people that will journey with them in their faith.
I have a pounding headache at the moment for all the tears that have been gathering up behind my eyes all day but I’ve not had a spare moment to just rest and reflect and let them pour out. My heart has been totally destroyed and transformed as I’ve watched these people be true reflections of Christ to me and to each other this weekend. They want Jesus just as much as me (a straight moderately-conservative Christian). Experiencing same-sex attraction has not deterred or distracted their hunger for God. If anything, it seems to have increased it. Every conversation I’ve had over the past 24 hours has centered around how to be more like Jesus, what the Christian response has been (and could be) to gay Christians, and what we can do to start having these conversations outside of the realms of this weekend.
I don’t know what I expected going into this weekend, but I wasn’t prepared to experience this. I have seen the Church (capital C) at work, the way Christ intended it to work, in a way I don’t know if I have ever experienced before in my life. There is a general understanding that we all are works in progress, that many of us have differing interpretations of Scripture, but that we all love one another and want to grow together to be more like Him. The desire to indoctrinate one another, to change each others’ beliefs, or to “fix” one another is profoundly and beautifully lacking. The devotion to love one another, share with one another, challenge one another, and to become more like Jesus outshines everything else. The central focus of this weekend hasn’t been about sexuality – it’s been about becoming more like Him!
It’s been only 24 hours. My heart is broken, transformed, humbled, honored, encouraged, and overwhelmed with the goodness of our great God.
More to come soon…