Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. (John 7:24 ESV)
The past two weeks have been tiring. Work has been outrageously busy, and my personal life has been eventful, to say the least. And after all of this, I find myself tired, depressed, and in short supply of hope for the future. Upon becoming a Christian almost 3-1/2 years ago I was very concerned about how I would be treated within the church. I had felt called by God to follow Him, and in the process, leave behind my past of homosexual sex and focus on pursuing a life that I felt would honor God. And always somewhere in my mind was this idea that I would never truly be fully accepted by a large part of the church.
This fear I’d harbored has finally materialized in an ugly and unexpected way last week. I was accused very matter of fact-ly by the wife of a good friend of mine, a fellow Christian, of having a sexual affair with him and of wrecking their marriage. I was shocked and hurt beyond words. Firstly, this friend and me had never been involved in anything that was even remotely sexual. He is heterosexual and I am not aware of any struggle on his part with issues of same sex attraction. He and I had taken a long time to get to the point of having a stable and confident friendship. I say this because for a while, he was never quite sure of my commitment to Christ and celibacy. This used to frustrate me, but I did understand his caution on some level. It simply wasn’t something that was commonplace at this church or in his experiences – men coming out of a homosexual lifestyle and pursuing Christ. So it frustrated me but I got it. He needed time to know if he could trust me. So after a few years of friendship, for the past 6 months or so, it has seemed apparent to me that both he and I had found some type of security in the friendship. Something had gradually shifted to a point where whatever barriers each of us kept in place had seemed to have fallen. For my part, the feelings I had that he treated me differently because of my past had largely gone away. And for his part, it seemed as if he had gotten to the point of trusting me completely with respect to my past life, and treated me as he would any other good friend. We found ourselves in a good, close, and significant friendship and both of us would openly describe the other as a best friend. Read More
Steve Fuller over at Living By Faith Blog has written a couple of excellent articles telling us of God’s promises to those of us living with same-sex attractions. I’d initially commented on another post of his, and according to Steve, my comment prompted him to address this issue on his blog. I found his articles to be personally encouraging and uplifting and I would highly recommend reading them, as well as the other great material on his blog!
God’s Promises for Those Battling With Same-Sex Attractions (Part 1)
God’s Promises for Those Battling With Same-Sex Attractions (Part 2)
And this was the initial article that I had commented on, which is a response to a woman’s concerns about facing a lifetime without sex because of her divorce:
A Reader Wonders About Life Without Sex
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:1-2 HCSB)
In the times that I have read James 4 in the past, It struck me as mostly addressing the relations between tribes, groups or countries. But in reading it recently, it was impressed on me that this passage is very much related to my interpersonal relationships as well.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines conflict as follows:
a: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons)
b: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands
…Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
It’s probably rather obvious to all that conflict generally occurs as a result of incompatible ideas, or opposing needs, desires or demands. But the extent to which pride comes into play may not be as obvious initially. When we think or behave in a way that dismisses other’s opinions and assume our’s to be superior, we miss out on opportunities to learn and grow through our relationships. We lose the chance of expanding our understanding of God and others. While we certainly may be “right” about any particular idea or belief, the unwillingness to even listen to the suggestions or opinions of others displays an attitude of arrogance which reveals a level of pride in us. Read More
English: John the Baptist baptizing Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)
Jesus’ Idea of Friendship
What does friendship mean to us? To many, it is just a loose relationship between people who enjoy one another’s company. To others, it involves a commitment to another person which embodies the virtues of loyalty, faithfulness forgiveness, love, kindness and mercy. How do you respond to a friend in need?
I admit, oftentimes I approach the friend in need from the stand point of “what have you done for me lately?”. Or perhaps, “will you ever be able to repay this wonderful favor I am about to do for you?”. But does this embody the desire of God for us in our friendships? Does this display the sacrificial love that our Savior exemplified toward us, His friends? Probably not. For what God is calling us to in relation to our friends is a more sacrificial love. Christ did not base His preeminent sacrifice for the world on gaining a set return on His suffering. Our Lord laid down His life, paying the ultimate price, so that we could have a relationship with His Father. He willingly laid it down to please His Father and to ensure a future for those who believe in Him, whoever they may be.
Friendship for the Body
So what then are we to consider when we seek to meet the needs of our friends? How much giving is too much? If we follow the example laid out for us in John 15:13, we would see that we are called to make the ultimate sacrifice for those friends whom we claim to love.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 HCSB)
So when we claim to “love” our friend, how do we put the action behind those loving words? Is this love of ours meted out simply by our own judgement call as to what our friend would do for us if the situation were reversed? The difficulty in loving as Christ loves us is in realizing and overcoming the fact that Christ did not love merely when He saw a return on his “investment”. Christ loved us first because it was the Fathers will that He do so, and He sought to please His Father at all times, and second, because He Himself is Love. Read More
Parts 5 through 8 after the jump… Read More
Alone in the dark (Photo credit: miss vichan)
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” ~C. S. Lewis
For me, one of the most difficult aspects of singleness and a commitment to celibacy is my present sense that I am going through this life alone. For a couple of months now, I have been constantly reminded that I am lacking something which most everyone else I know has: companionship. Someone to share life with; to share goals, struggles and victories. As C. S. Lewis wrote in the quote above, I feel very much like I am merely surviving, with no real sense of value or of bringing value to another through a godly relationship.
In the men’s group I am a part of, a few of the guys are participating with their wives in “wellness” programs. They are taking steps to eat healthier, exercise etc. with the aim of improving their health and relationships. Together, these husband/wife teams are working toward a goal. One of my friends in the group has been urging me to change to a healthier lifestyle as well but I have been resistant. I really would like to be a healthier person. Eating healthier and increasing my physical activity/exercising really does appeal to me in many ways. But I find myself lacking the motivation to do it by myself. All I can seem to think of is having a partner in this process of being healthier and motivating each other toward being healthier. And when I think of doing these things on my own, I just don’t see the point; it doesn’t seem practical. I don’t see any joy in getting healthier and not having someone to share the victories along the way with.
Something has changed for me in this area in the past couple years. Prior to coming to Christ, I wasn’t always the healthiest person. But I was able to work up the motivation to exercise and eat healthier. Much of this drive I had was largely sinful. At the time I started to workout with a personal trainer and eat healthier, my mind was focused on the benefits of this. Perhaps the biggest motivator to starting to change my lifestyle at that time was the potential to have greater “success” in the area of meeting other guys, and all that went along with those increased “opportunities”. Less important was my actual health, but it was a factor. Even outside of the area of health, I derived some happiness and joy from buying things for myself. I even enjoyed grocery shopping and preparing meals. It would make me happy to buy clothes, a new tv, a new computer, car, etc. Now I just don’t care about these things either. Even the things I want, I don’t have the drive to go get them by myself. Now in some ways this is a positive, but in other ways it reveals a very present problem. I am largely feeling without joy these days – primarily in doing anything that would benefit me. I came into a rather decent amount of money recently, and I can’t even bring myself to spend it on the things I feel I want or need. Read More