Letters to My Kids

Love your neighbor

Sometimes, I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. This morning, I was feeling a bit off because there’s military action in Israel, Christians in the Middle East being persecuted and kicked out of their homes, police forces firing on citizens over racial issues in the South, and then a prominent worship leader came out as gay this morning.

What are we supposed to do with all this? What is the response God would ask of us when we see others dying? When nation attacks nation, what is a Christian to do? When people are being forcibly removed from their homes, what do we say? When someone comes out and says that they believe homosexuality to be right and we believe differently, how do we respond?

In trying to deal with these things, I have to admit one thing: My conscience and understanding of God does not rule others. My personal beliefs do not dictate morality, God does. While I would see all wars stopped and all people fed, clothed, and with sufficient shelter…I have no right to tell others what they must do to satisfy my conscience. I can only point to God who judges our hearts.

It would be easy and simple for me to stand and proclaim that war and homosexuality must end. It would be gratifying to assume authority over others and make them follow my convictions. But it would do violence to their spiritual growth. It wouldn’t be right.

Even as a pastor, my job is not to govern behavior. My job is not to tell others what they can and cannot do. My job is to lead them to God, do what I believe to be right, live as Christ lived, and teach them to love their neighbor. I must believe that the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts leads us into all truth, and He is powerful enough to do so even if I do nothing.

So when I’m confronted with people who say that police have the right to shoot civilians to keep the peace, or when I hear of someone who proclaims right what I believe to be wrong, my response should not be to prepare salvos of admonition, pontification, or condemnation.

My response should be contemplation, introspection, and intercession.

What I want my children to understand is this: I want you to understand that God commands us to love others. God does not guarantee that we will never be wrong, or that others will never be wrong. If we claim to love God, we will love our brothers and sisters. I believe that means that we love those in the church and without the church.

Do I believe practicing homosexuality to be a sin? Yes I do. But when I meet someone who disagrees, I don’t want to bring them arguments and accusations. I’d rather bring them love, prayer, and Melanie’s homemade cookies.


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