Can God Love Somebody Like Me?

More Questions Than Answers

In the last several post, we have explored the challenging questions Jesus face from the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees – all recorded in Luke 20.

 “Who gave you the authority to do what you are doing?”

 “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”

 “If a man marries a woman and dies, and his six brothers marry her and all die, whose wife will she be in the resurrection?”

You can click on each question and read the associated blog.

We identified these as dumb, silly, stupid, and ridiculous questions because the intent was not to learn or even to engage in a theological debate, but rather the aim was to verbally trip up, trap, and embarrass Jesus.

In each case, Jesus turned the table on them.  In the end, we discover that nobody dared to ask him any more questions.

Now this is not to say that Jesus had no time for genuine questions.  He always had time for the kinds of questions that come from the heart.  He always had time for the kinds of questions that explore the connection between the Divine and humanity.

Can God love somebody like me?

I am sick/afraid/lonely/excluded/broken/lost– Is there any hope?

Can someone tell me how to find God?

Is it possible that I might be saved?

One of the problems in the church today is that we are spending too much time asking and responding to the silly, stupid, and distracting questions in life.  We are engage in silly fights and argument over issues that distract us from what really matters.

I got caught up in a conversation recently with a fellow in a fast food place in the city.  It started as a conversation about football.  He was wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey.  I was wearing my Ravens jacket.

From there the conversation touched on several topics until he asked:  “What do you do for a living?”

“I am a Baptist preacher,” I replied.

Usually that shuts down most any conversation, but not with this fellow.

 “You guys fight a lot, don’t you?” he said.  He made specific reference to the Richmond Baptist Association, which had been in the local news recently because one of our congregations (Ginter Park Baptist Church) had ordained a homosexual.

Then he said, “You Christians ought to learn how to talk to each other!  You preach about love, but it does not seem like you love each other very well.”

I could not argue with his comments very much.  He was right on target.  There was a lot of conversation directed at Ginter Park Baptist within our association.  There was a lot of conversation about that congregation.  What there was little of was conversation with them.

Nobody wanted to explore their biblical rational for their decision about whom to ordain.  Nobody wanted to sit down with them and listen to their heart.  The assumption was made that they were wrong and needed to be avoided.

So, several churches has made public pronouncements and decisions to reject Ginter Park Baptist and to disassociate from fellowship with them and the Richmond Baptist Association, which still includes them in its membership.

The aim of all this was to look, sound, and appear PURE.  It was even put that way by one pastor, who said:  “We must look pure and upright to the rest of our community, or people will not listen to what we have to say!”

The result was that we stopped talking to one another and stopped loving one another.  The consequence has been that people outside of the “CHURCH” and an awareness of God’s grace have received the message that GRACE and LOVE are really not the center of our message, but rather our aim is to appear PURE.  In other words, they are NOW NOT listening to what we have to say.

The final thing that man with the Raven’s jersey told me was, “I use to go to church when I was younger.   What I remember is that Jesus spent more time loving people than anything else!  The reason that I left the church was because it didn’t seem to be like Jesus in that respect.  They didn’t love people.”

What is the central focus of your life? … of your denomination? … of your church/congregation?

Are you busy spending time fighting dumb questions?

Are you focused on “making a stand” and “looking pure?”

Are you personally caught up in these silly kinds of distractions?

I meet lots of people who feel lonely, hurt, empty, rejected, excluded, and unwanted.  They do not care so much if I look or sound pure.  They don’t care what my stance is about somebody else’s lifestyle.  What they want to know, more than anything else, is whether there is a God who cares for them.  Are there a people of God with whom they might discover that they are liked, loved, accepted, included, and adopted.

Well, is there such a place?  Is there such a people?  Would you count yourself among them?

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