"Christians talk too much because we really don't know what to say and how to say it. It's time to pay more attention to living out what we believe instead of always trying to say it." -Andrew MarinHere's what I'm thinking: the love of God. This is what has been given to us and this is what we are called to give to the world. What did Billy Graham say? "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love." I'm not sure it could be put more succinctly than that. Our call to make sure the world knows about the love of God means that we have to be constantly aware of what this love is, where God is moving, and what approaching others with an attitude of love looks like. While God's love is unchanging, my understanding of it is small, shifting as I learn more about His nature and our world and people and relationships.
I just got so freaking excited about love around the middle of freshman year that I think I stopped searching. I had found something that made so much sense, I said, "Yes! This is it! Sweet. I figured it out," and I sat back with my composition book full of verses, all ready to hug everyone I saw.
But my definition of love has been changing ever since then: this is not something from which to flee, but for which to be grateful. It means that God is still moving.
It all comes down to this [wait until tomorrow when things have changed]: respect, unquestioned respect for everyone (including that homeless man whose eyes follow you on the sidewalk, those high school girls sitting two tables away who can talk of nothing but boys, those homophobic legalists who just happen to be related to you, oh and your best friends); an earnest desire to listen to and understand the stories of those people with whom your path will cross: to listen without judgement, to listen without formulating your counter argument, to listen without the agenda of wanting to change whatever the other believes, to listen and come alongside and live life together, seeking truth together; to be willing to change, whether this means our plans, our beliefs, our words, our opinions, our goals; a commitment to the fluidity of what it means to live in the Spirit: while He does not change, our understanding will; and to live what we claim as truth [the world reads Christians, not the Bible].
This is love to me. Too broad a definition? Well then, what's yours?
This is what makes sense right now. I still don't know how to talk to God. I still don't know how to talk to people. But I'm trying to learn. While my fingers shake from caffeine in my veins and Bon Iver softly croons, I honestly can't tell if I'm panicking or excited. I'm just trying to learn, trying to not be afraid of change and movement, trying to find my voice so I can say, "Yes, He loves you and there is nothing you can do to increase or decrease that love."
“But Matt, don’t you understand? God is bigger than this issue, and therefore, so is our faith. We can’t pin God down and ask for specifics, refusing to move forward until He spells out what is sin and what is righteousness. Your being gay is just one part of you. By letting that be the only thing that matters between you and God, then you’re never going to get anywhere. Think of this: what if I defined myself as an asthmatic and only that? I’d argue with God over why He had created me so imperfectly and ask for healing. But I’d be cropping myself, not offering all of me to God. God loves me, all of me, and my worship is not less worthy because sometimes it’s a bit breathless. My asthma does not define me before God.”
“I find it a little bit disturbing that you’re comparing your disease with the essence of who I am.”
“Is being gay the essence of who you are?”
My mind said ‘yes’ immediately, but I sat there and thought about it, mouth open like an imbecile, for a few moments.
He said softly, “I don’t think it is. I see you: you’re introverted, thoughtful, brilliant. You hate books and hate seeing people hurting. You don’t like confrontation but are willing to have hard conversations. You are seeking after truth and wanting to respect people. Your mind works in ways mine never could and all of this would still be true even if you weren’t gay.”
“I think I’m missing your point.”
“Does God love me any less because I have asthma? Because I’m sometimes off key when I try to harmonize? Because I lost my temper and yelled at Claire last night? Because I’m willing to wrestle with Him over thoughts and doctrines that don’t make sense?”
“Right. And God doesn’t love you any less because you’re gay.”
“No! You can’t contest that, Matt! God would not love you more if you were straight. Ok?”
I sat with this for a minute, then breathed, “Ok.”