This tall girl likes to dialogue. I love hearing well written dialogue from brilliant playwrights. I love a well-crafted song lyric – I read 4 or 5 books at the same time (which drives my husband nuts). One of my favorite things in life is ‘coffee talk’ with my daughter. Presently we manage to have our coffee talk time online, long distance thanks to the Internet.
I’m fascinated with the group of authors including C.S. Lewis and Tolkien who met at pubs in London to dialogue about dialogue! What I’d give to have been a fly on the wall as they imagined Narnia and Hobbits and heavenly places beyond this world.
Lately I find myself praying for a new dialogue, a dialogue long overdue. I pray God will open a place for the Church to dialogue with people who have been, for the most part, uninvited to the table: those who wrestle with same sex attraction, pornography, sexual addiction. I wonder what good might come if we put down the picket signs, lower our voices and actually listen to each other—to dialogue through the Word of God, really listen and take a collective long gaze at the Cross of Jesus.
We all have stories. We have secrets. We have struggles. Jesus took them all to that Cross.
Is fear keeping us from having a long overdue dialogue with each other: gay and straight?
What are we afraid of?
The Church and the SSA camps are like armies entrenched and ready for a shoot out.
When Alcoholics Anonymous began, many of their first meetings were in churches. Many still meet in church basements and classrooms daily to share tough dialogue in the ongoing challenge of staying clean and sober.
When the divorce rate in the Church rose too high to ignore, the Divorce Care program was enthusiastically embraced. Groups now meet in churches to dialogue, cry, mend and heal together.
Celebrate Recovery began in the Church, another safe group where dialogue about all manner of struggles are addressed and put out in the open.
Where is the gay person who loves Jesus but struggles with same sex attraction to go?
Most Churches that cherish the Word of God shut their doors. The gay community has been forced to create their own church of acceptability. Where does a gay Christian go to hear the Truth spoken with genuine love and care? Where do they hear “Tell your story? Let’s walk through this together. We all have weakness and in those places Jesus promised to deliver, heal and to be our strength. Let’s talk.”
It seems that for the most part the Church either says to this person “Go away, you’re a lost cause!” or “God doesn’t care what you do with your body. It’s no problem!”
Yet there is a problem. There’s a break down of dialogue. Same Sex Attraction is THE issue of our culture and the Church must not ignore those seeking a place to talk. Perhaps we could start by listening more. Jesus asked a lot of questions. He listened. He never walked away from a hurting person who needed hope, needed Him. He touched the unlovely, the ones no one else thought was worth a dime of time. He shocked the Synagogue leaders by showing a willingness to dialogue with the outcast. Listening and dialogue changed hearts.
The last verse in Gospel of John is one of the most intriguing for me. John was the apostle closest to the heart of Jesus, the only apostle who died of old age versus martyrdom, the one who wrote the book of Revelations, the apostle who grew more passionate with age as he wrote and spoke of Jesus. His book is the only one that includes the story of the adulteress Jesus saved from the raging mob (John 8).
At the end of his Gospel account it’s as if John is thinking “I could write and write and write about Jesus until my arm gives out and the ink wells of the earth are dry.”
“…There are also many other things Jesus did. If they should all be recorded one by one (in detail), I suppose that even the world itself could not contain (have room for) the books that would be written.” Amplified Translation, John 21: 25
Surely there were so many others Jesus touched and healed, loved and set free that we do not know about. How many dialogues did Christ have with women who had abortions, doctors who performed them, people who suffered with eating disorders, cut themselves, liars, robbers, kids who ran away from home, drug addicts, homosexuals, cheaters, pedophiles, people whose hearts were green with envy or rotten with bitterness? Was any human struggle, failure, doubt, or sin not taken to that bloody Cross He bore?
How many more? In the words of the Apostle John, “even the world itself could not contain” the more.
This gives me hope.
This inspires my prayers for dialogue, to listen openly and fearlessly to those who long to find answers. The Word of God is all that will remain. In it’s pages, through it’s power and one long gaze together at the Cross of Jesus, it’s time to dialogue and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last 'trick', whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.
'But how?' we ask.
Then the voice says, 'They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'
There they are. There *we* are - the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
― Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out