Lately I have been pondering the concept of building bridges. I know Jesus became the bridge between us and the Father, as He says in John 14:6 (AMP):
I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
When we claim to be true Christ followers, we too are called to build bridges. We are to be“ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; and gave us the ministry of reconciliation so that by our example we might bring others to Him…” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, paraphrased)
My home group once built a bridge between myself and God. Not only that, they also helped to build a bridge between myself and the Church. After I shared my testimony for the first time, their reponse became the crucial building block I needed on my path to be able to walk into the arms of Jesus! If it was not for their loving response, I would not be where I am today (including being part of a ministry)!
Let me share how this happened.
It was the Fall of 2009. I was leading a home group in a small town. I was terrified to share about my former life as a lesbian. Fear, guilt and shame kept me silent! I was scared of being rejected due to the reality I faced: many Christians will judge members of the LGBTQ community. (I know this is changing, but back then it was the norm!) Even though I had been living celibate for 4 years at the time, I was still terrified to tell. Yet, deep down, I hoped that in some way or another, my story would be told. I wanted to bring it out into the open, yet feared and expected to be rejected and pushed away.
I wrote out my story and told the group that I was going to share a “different message” with them that evening. I then informed them that I would leave the moment I was done. Their response stunned me!
When I was finished reading my story, they all stood up, formed a circle around me, thanked me for being open, honest, vulnerable and brave. They laid hands on me, prayed with and for me – and told me that they loved me! They also asked for forgiveness for judging members of the LGBTQ in the past.
At that point in my life, I had been ready to give up everything – including my faith in God. But their loving response changed everything! This was a crucial building block in my life. And it bridged the way for me to walk into the arms of Jesus!
The moral of the story: When we respond in love and grace, it may just become the crucial step for a person to be able to walk into the arms of Jesus!
Their loving response changed everything!
Our world is full of people who have been hurt by those who are supposed to love them. The LGBTQ community is one of those groups of people. They have been hurt and marginalized by the church. There is a lot of animosity and hostility between the two. It is going to take both sides to accurately place the blocks for that bridge to be built.
As Christians, we need to corporately ask for forgiveness for our past history of judging and ridiculing them. Then we need to continue to love, listen, accept and treat them with dignity and respect. (I believe many churches and Christians today are working towards this goal!)
However, members of the LGBTQ need to accept our love and forgiveness. And when we don’t approve of their lifestyles, they need to see that this is not hate! All of these steps are much needed building blocks – to begin building that bridge!
The end result may be astounding! Our loving response towards any person in need – whether that be to help them out of a pit, or support them on their journey to finding Jesus – may just build the bridge for them to walk across into the arms of Jesus!
Today I am thankful for my home group. They did just that! God used them as ambassadors and “through their word and deed,” brought me into harmony with God! (from 2 Corinthians 5:18)