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Tony Campolo tells the story of a New York City pastor who chose to take a funeral that no other minister would take. The man who died was a homosexual who died of AIDS. The minister agreed to do the funeral. When he got to the graveside, he discovered an audience of thirty homosexual men. He conducted the funeral, and when he finished, he motioned for everyone to be dismissed, but no one moved. So he turned back to the crowd of men and said, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

One of them said, “Yeah. They usually read the 23rd Psalm at these things. You didn’t read the 23rd Psalm. Could you please read it?” So he read the 23rd Psalm. Then another man said, “There’s something in the Bible about nothing separating us from the love of God. Can you read that?” And so the man read the eighth chapter of Romans that said nothing can separate us from the love of God.

And for about an hour, the men asked the pastor to read from the Bible. The pastor was surprised to find that these men were hungry and desperate to hear about the love of God. To hear that nothing – NOTHING – could separate them from the love of God. He wanted to ask them why if they were spiritually hungry they didn’t just go to a church. But he didn’t have to ask. It was obvious why. God may have loved them, but the church despised them.

The church has become so good at pronouncing condemnation to those who have done wrong that those who need God most never hear the message of God’s love.

Tony Compolo, Let Me Tell You a Story, Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000; pp 4-6.

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