I get emailed a lot. Between Christian companies wanting my church to buy, sell, endorse, bring in their products and spam I get a ton of emails. You add to that the weekly emails I get about people wanting to know something about Next Level Church and I’m wishing I got a dollar for every email I get. I’d be filthy rich!
You want to know the question I get asked the most?
It’s not what denomination we are.
It’s not what our view is on theological matters.
It’s not what we offer for kids.
It’s not even what our vision for the next five years is. That’s the second most asked question.
The question I get asked the most through email is, “What is your views on homosexuality.”
Typically the email goes like this.
“I found your website and visited your church once. What’s your view on homosexuality.”
There aren’t a lot of warm pleasantries. There is typically zero information about the person. It’s just wham, BAM, thank you ma’am.
I guess there is nothing wrong with asking that question. It seems to be very important to a lot of people.
I rarely reply with an answer in my first response.
I don’t know if the person is a homosexual who has been verbally abused by the church or kicked out.
I don’t know if it’s a person who is disguising their hatred towards homosexuals with a Bible verse.
I don’t know if it’s from a genuinely concerned Christian whose conviction leads them to believe homosexuality is a sin.
I don’t know if it’s from a progressive Christian who is looking for a church to support their views.
I want our church to reflect the relationships that Jesus had.
And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2
So at Next Level we will talk about sin. We will address tough issues. But we will be a place where sinners are welcomed.
And this will make Christians uncomfortable.
The question I often get is when will you confront homosexuals that come to your church?
When were you personally confronted with your sin?
If the topic were a sin you struggle with how would you want your church to handle it? Would you want them to kick you out?
If we are going to put limits on God’s grace then we need to be consistent.
If we are going to manage sinners then we need to be consistent.
If we are going to kick out sinners from the church then we need to be consistent.
If we kick out the gays then let’s also…
- kick out the divorced
- kick out the divorced who remarried
- kick out anyone who is having or has had sex outside of marriage
- kick out the alcoholics
- kick out the gluttons
- kick out the gossips who do so much damage to the Kingdom of God
- kick out those that have a temper
- kick out the greedy
- kick out the men who lust
- kick out anyone who has had an affair
- kick out the liars
- kick out people who illegally watch movies on their computer because even though they can get away with it it is stealing
- kick out anyone who has sinned after conversion
If we are going to kick people out of the church let’s be consistent. Let’s stand at the door of the church, take sin resumes, and reject people like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.
So what do I believe about homosexuality?
It’s a sin.
It’s a sin that is easy to target.
It’s a sin that Christians love to condemn.
Look at what Paul said to the church in Corinth. If you want to talk about a jacked up church it’s in Corinth. They had sons having sexual relations with their own mom. Do WHAT?!
Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:8-11
How many times do you have to lust before you are sexually immoral? How many times do you have to steal before you are a thief? How many times do you have go into debt before you are greedy? How many times do you have to get drunk before you are a drunkard? How many times do you have to talk bad about someone else before you are a slanderer?
Every person in every church could make this list.
Paul says, “That is what some of you were.”
You were known by your sin, but now you are known by being sanctified by Jesus.
Paul wrote this because the Christians in the Corinthian church had forgotten who they were in Jesus. They had issues. They weren’t perfect. They were being identified by their sin and not by their Savior.
When Paul said “some of you were” he was not saying that they didn’t practice those sinful acts anymore. They still did. They were suing each other in courts. They had forgotten who they were now that they were Christians. He was challenging them to find their identity in Jesus and not their sin.
So when do we call out people about their sin at Next Level?
We believe that it’s God’s job to convict. I talk about sin often. I talk about missing God’s best. I talk about finding our new identity in Jesus and not in our sin.
Now there are spiritual leadership positions where we have raised the bar. No one is perfect but we are doing our best to follow the leadership guidelines we find in the Bible.
Thankfully gluttony isn’t a disqualification for being in spiritual leadership.
There are certain actions that do disqualify us from spiritual authority. We try to raise the bar for spiritual leadership while still eating with, hanging out with, and going to church with people like Jesus hung out with.
Is this a perfect system? NO!
We don’t have all the answers.
We make mistakes.
We will change things.
We will figure out how to be a church of messy people.
We will figure out how Jesus talked about sin and still ate with sinners.
We will figure out what to do with people that make us feel uncomfortable.
We will learn to love Jesus, love people, and make a difference.