Summary: Jesus came with grace to fulfill the Law and not to make the Law void.
Divine Balance of Truth and Grace May 15, 2011
There’s a story that comes from many years ago in England. At that time, they still used balanced scales to buy and sell food. Well, it seems that a baker sued a farmer over a pound of butter. The baker claimed that the pound of butter the farmer sold him was less than a pound. He charged that the farmer had been gradually making each package of butter smaller and smaller until now it was only one-third of a pound, but the baker was still paying the same price. So the baker charged the farmer with cheating his customers.
In his own defense, the farmer told the judge, “Sir, I have a perfectly balanced scale for measuring the butter. On the one side, I place the butter. On the other side, I always put the baker’s own ‘pound loaf’ of bread. The butter always weighs the same as the baker’s bread. That’s how I know when he’s getting his pound of butter.”
Finding the right balance for our lives isn’t always easy. Given that we’re flawed by sin in our most basic nature, a Godly balance can be even harder to find. Today I’d like to address a most pressing issue of balance with which many churches are struggling. It’s the issue of the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians, but at its root – and often not mentioned – is the much larger issue of the Authority of Scripture.
Before I begin, I want you to know that it’s quite alright to disagree with me. I’ve even disagreed with myself at times. Yet, all my prayers keep leading me back to one very fundamental question. Do I believe that God’s written law, God’s Truth, is the same for each generation and each culture? Is God’s Word clear enough that you and I can read it together – giving it scholarly and prayerful thought – and arrive at the same conclusions? I believe we can.
Much of my sermon is adapted from an article I read by Rev. Dr. Scott Dudley of Belleview Presbyterian Church in Belleview, Washington. After reading his article, I saw no reason to reinvent the wheel. He said it so well, and many of his opinions echo my own that I had previously written in correspondences with other ministers in the last two years.
Where I want to start – and to me this is important – is with an apology. The first thing I want to say is, to anyone in this room who has struggled personally with the issue of homosexuality in your own life, or in the life of a friend or a family member. To you, I want to say, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry for all the ways that Christians have failed to show the real face of Jesus to you or your loved ones in many different ways. As a Christian, I take responsibility for that.
I know that I have probably failed at times to show the real face of Jesus to some who were struggling with this issue. So I apologize in advance if I have said or may say any-thing hurtful. I don’t mean to. What I hope to do is to show what Scripture says, and hopefully together, we can see God’s truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit helps me do this.
The second thing I want to do is to state clearly that anyone who struggles with issues of homosexuality is welcome in God’s church. You are loved, and no one, in God’s church, should ever judge you. I want to make this very clear. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. We are all equal.
I want to start with two working premises. The first is that, on this topic, the two extremes that we’ve seen played out in the media are neither one Biblical, and both are wrong. On the one side, you get a sort of super-judgmental, “you’re really an awful person if you have homosexual desires,” We’ve all heard this condemnation. I cannot stress enough that this attitude does not represent what the Bible says.
But the other extreme is also wrong, where you hear people say, “Well, God approves because God made you this way. So don’t worry what the Bible says.” Neither of those extremes really captures God’s message in His Word.
The second premise that I’m going to work through is that the laws of God laid down in Scripture are meant for our good, not to make us miserable. When God gives us a law, even though it may be hard to follow, even though it might not feel natural at first, its purpose is not to make us miserable. Rather, it’s to make us whole. If we redefine what God calls sin so that we now call it normal, we steal hope from those seeking redemption. Just because someone says it’s not a sin does not make it so in God’s Truth. Redemption cannot come without repentance. Those two premises will govern everything I say.