Saturday, October 24, 2015

Messy Grace: A Final Review

I have finished Caleb Kaltenbach's book, "Messy Grace". I need to read it a couple more times. He is unflinching in his devotion to God's truth, but he is also unflinching in his grace, kindness and love for people that are suffering from sin's temptations and entanglements. His emphasis in the book is on the LGBT community both inside and outside the Church and how to deal with it on Christ's terms - grace and truth.

I know that some of you are thinking, "there are 'mo's inside the Church?" Yes brethren there are homosexuals in the church, in our Bible colleges, campus ministries and on and on and on. Deal with it. God loves everybody, even the self righteous. I'm sure you will get into heaven too. (;^)

Caleb's perspective is unique among pastors. Both of his parents are gay/lesbian. He grew up in the gay community. His mother took him to gay pride parades when he was a child.  He witnessed first hand how Christians would mistreat LGBT people. He saw the outright hate and judgement. This caused him to empathize with and love gay people from an early age and despise Christians for their hateful attitudes.

Later, in his teen years, he set out to disprove the Bible since it seemed to be the source of all the "Christian" hate. He started going to an evangelical church. He joined a youth group, but all of his efforts were turned against him. He had fallen in with a loving bunch and God used them to bring Caleb to a knowledge of the truth and Caleb came to accept that and much more. He became a Christian and later a pastor.

My favorite part of the book was when he had to "come out" to his gay parents as Christian. The irony of it is just incredible. It made me think of all those TV shows, movies and books from the 70's where a character comes out as gay to friends and family. The reactions were completely the same for Caleb, but the issue was completely different. It was funny and sad all at once. But everything eventually worked itself out. If you read the book, and I do recommend that you do so, you will see what I am talking about.

The overriding message of the book is that we have to live in the tension that exists between grace and truth as Jesus did - with everyone. He defines that tension as love. We must maintain the biblical standard as regards sin, but we must also love and embrace sinners when they come seeking Jesus. We all started there. We should be able to understand it. We do it for adulterers, pornophiles, drug abusers, fornicators, liars, gossips, haters and even murderers and the self righteous. Why can we not do it for LGBT folks?

Good question.     

Caleb says we can do this. I agree with him. I think this can be done with some education or maybe re-education and some real life examples of people that love Jesus, enjoy a successful Christian life, but also deal with same sex attraction. If you are thinking they are not there, "not in my church", well Christian, buckle your seat belt and put your tray in the upright and locked position and prepare to learn otherwise! Our plane is full of all kinds of people just waiting for God to fully integrate them into His Church. LGBT folks are just a few of those passengers. Let's move them out of coach to first class and love them like everybody else....OK?

Read the book. You will see what he's talking about. The practice of messy grace will give you what might seem like a messy church, but it will be an open an honest one. No more facades of perfection that look like well groomed cemeteries. Broken people alive and growing in Christ onward to full maturity. There's a concept.

Easy to talk about; maybe hard to do. What do you think? Can we love that much? Maybe not now, but we can learn to love like that. So I am told. Ya, it's an issue for me too and it really comes from a strange place which someday I may explain to you. That day is not today dear reader, suffice it to say that sometimes loving yourself is hard too.
Get the book. Share its biblical message with others in your church. The field is ripe for the harvest but the workers are few (and it seems like no one wants to go to this field).   

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