Well ... it has been a LONG time since I last used this blog site. Today I'm in the mood to share something ... This past weekend I had the privilege of preaching from the book of James. With the uproar in America concerning gay rights, homosexuality, and the definition of marriage, a spotlight that seems to have gotten much brighter thanks to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, I wanted to share a post that I wrote on our church's blog from the sermon preached on Sunday, August 5:

After this past Sunday's sermon on James 2:1-13 on favoritism, several people have asked me to print the end of the sermon, where we discussed favoritism with regard to the Church's struggle with homosexuality.

While I encourage you to hear the thoughts below in their original context, here is the "script" for that section of the sermon (not verbatim):

I believe marriage is a one man, one woman deal. I support the freedom(s) that we hold dear and experience here in America. I didn’t disagree with the “support Chick-fil-a day” on Wednesday and I support what Dan Cathy had to say and his freedom to say it.

 However ... I have wrestled with a tension in my heart on this subject all week.

This commentary has nothing to do with church membership, it just has everything to do with following Jesus.

I believe we saw the best and the worst of Christians last Wednesday (Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day). I believe this morning’s message speaks to the heart of this debate on many levels. On the issues of homosexuality:

Christian are quick to judge and slow compassion. We use the truth of God’s Word as a weapon of guilt/hate instead of an extension of His grace. We forget that while Jesus did not condone the sin of those he often ate with and visited, He did not let that sin become a barrier to His compassion. He went out of His way to meet with and build relationships with those who were social outcasts (sinners), especially among the religious, in order to introduce them to His love … in part because the religious of His day would not make that introduction themselves. They were too busy playing favorites … and so are we.

We prefer to stay in our Christian bubble instead of loving "the least of these." We feel safer and more sheltered in our Church circles instead of inviting gay couples and homosexuals into our Church circles. We do all of this under the pretense of “fellowship” and unity, preferring those who are just like us instead of preferring those who are unlike anyone else. We show the worst kind of favoritism, favoritism to ourselves by attacking others. And we aren’t even consistent in our attacks, playing the favorites again …

We willingly and openly say to the woman who is living in an affair or to the man who is stuck in pornography, “Come to our church so we can love you right where you are” in hopes of changing them, but we would never say that to the gay couple that lives down the street. Their sin is too egregious for us; too much for us. And all the while we don’t bother to recognize that the sins we are battling with and carrying around with us are no less egregious to God - our greed, our lust, our gossip, our hatred. And so we allow favoritism and his siblings, judgment and prejudice, to run amok in the church under the false pretense of “God’s truth” and “defending the faith.”

I am not upset about those who went to support CFA on Wed., or for those who are adamantly fighting for the DOMA, but I do want to know this: The next time you are at CFA for dinner on Family Night, and you see a gay couple with their kids on family night, how will you treat them? With judgement or compassion? With anger or with mercy? With contempt or with love?

Before you answer, remember the ROYAL RULE: love your neighbor … and combine it with this challenge - "We only believe as much of the Bible as we practice. If we fail to obey the most important word - “love your neighbor” - then we will not do any good with the lesser matters of the Word."

The hallmark of today's Christian and the Church in general is judgement and guilt. "Why do you treat us like that? Why do you hate us?" The gay community asks. But the Bible teaches that the hallmark of today's Christian should be love. "Why do you treat us like that? Even though you don't agree with us, why do you love us?" THAT should be their question.

I want you to know that I believe you should stand up for the Truth. In fact, we are commanded to stand up for the Truth. But when the world hates the truth because it is offensive to them, we should not be surprised. And our greatest recourse and our greatest response to that hate should always be compassion ... 

They will know we are Christians by our judgment? No. They will know we are Christians by our truth? No. They will know we are Christians by our love? Yes. There is one cure for everything that we have talked about today and it is GRACE. It's coming to the realization that the reason we don't play favorites is because we depend on God's grace just as much as everybody else does ...

While this post speaks loudly for itself, it fits best in the context of the original sermon. If you'd like to listen to the sermon in its entirety, check it out here, or by searching Live Oak Christian Church in iTunes and listening to the sermon entitled "Favoritism" on August 5, 2012.