Stuck in the middle… with you?

In Christ, there is neither progressive nor conservative, evangelical nor liberal, egalitarian nor complementarian, feminist nor patriachist, Congregationalist nor denominationalist…

I could go on, but I think you get the drift.  That’s part of what I hear when I read Paul these days.  And when I read blog posts like this or this (or any of a million others I could link to).

But what do you hear Paul saying when you read Paul asserting that there is no Greek or Jew, male or female?

To me, he’s saying that In Christ, we are stripped bare of all the signifiers that we cling to- status, dogma, law, doctrine, gender, belief, age, good deeds, good talk, and yes, even our sins.   When we are in Christ – in relationship with the one who is our Redeemer, King, Judge and Savior- we are set free from all of that bondage.  Not so that we might rebuild prisons and forge new chains for ourselves and others, but so that we might see each other as Christ sees us… as a part of God’s very good creation, holy and without blemish.

The moment we allow ourselves to see with Christ’s love and compassion (which honestly ought to be THIS moment and EVERY moment), the labels we cling to will do us no good.  Because Christ cares not one whit for whether I am “orthodox” by the measure of this group or that.  Only faith, which pales in comparison to love, matters.  The faith of Christ, the love of God and the faith I have in both of those.

But it begs the question: How then shall I live?

How then do we live together in a time when the world wants to simultaneously eschew all labels and create data points that categorize people within an inch of their lives?  Especially in a time in the life of the church in which I am called to serve is busy organizing into groups defining who they aren’t as much as who they are?

Honestly, I have no idea, but it frustrates and hurts me at the core.

Not because I am above all this, but because I am smack in the middle of it.  Because my call to serve the church is complicated by the fact that my family has been wounded deeply by various expressions of the Body of Christ.  And by the fact that I believe God loved my child the day we stood in front of the church for baptism the same way God loved my child the day he walked out of confirmation class because he couldn’t join a church that wouldn’t ordain someone based on sexual orientation.  Which is the same way God loved my child the day he came out to us.  And I beleive that God will love both of us as we live into what that means.   Not because we deserve or earn it, but because gay or straight, we are beloved of God.

That alone doesn’t put me into one camp or another.  Pretty much all Christians believe God is all about loving all of us sinners (John 3:16 and all).  The litmus test comes when we talk about why I believe my child is, like me, a sinner.  In conversations with pastors and instructors, other seminarians and church staff, I find I fall pretty close to the middle of the road.  More conversative than some, more liberal than others.

With the state of the denomination what it is, I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer about this, seeking direction and listening intently, in hopes of staying smack dab in the middle of God’s will.  For now, that’s where I’ll stay – work on solidifying my position in Christ and practice seeing others there as well.


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