I came across this picture the other day, and it touched me so deeply that I wanted to cry. In case you haven't seen it yet, it was taken at a gay-pride parade in Chicago. A Christian group decided to take a bold stand and hold a demonstration at the parade. Not a protest. But an apology. An apology for the way the church has treated the gay community. To say "I'm sorry" for the appalling treatment that many Christians have given homosexuals for countless years. The man in the underwear is named Tristan, and the demonstrator embracing him is Nathan. Nathan wrote this in his blog shortly after the event:
Is that not beautiful? Does that not exactly portray the way Jesus himself reached out to people during His time on this earth? You see, "religious people" never liked Jesus. They called Him a drunkard and a glutton. They hated that He spent His precious time with prostitutes, tax collectors, and "sinners" of all kinds. It really ground their gears that Jesus thought highly of women, and treated them with honor and respect. They didn't like that He got His hands dirty with society's "untouchables," literally reaching out and touching the flesh of rotting lepers. If Jesus was walking the earth today, you'd better believe He'd be hanging out in gay bars. And in brothels. And crack houses. And hospitals. And prisons. And AIDS hospices. And under bridges with the homeless. Jesus would be loving on people everywhere the "religious people" are not! You see, Jesus was all about LOVE. Forgiveness. Compassion. In scripture, the only people you hear Jesus laying judgement down on are the high-and-mighty, legalistic, stick-up-their-butts religious people!
Here's the deal. As a Jesus-follower, I believe that each and every one of us is in exactly the same sin boat. We're all jacked-up, we all have issues, and we all need love, grace, and forgiveness. I have no right whatsoever to judge anyone else. I've got my own issues to worry about! And I am getting sick and tired of legalistic "Christians" who seem to have completely forgotten what Jesus was all about. Isaiah 64:6 states that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." It's not possible to be good enough, and a bunch of stupid rules are not getting anyone into heaven. The only thing that can redeem any of us is the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. None of us needs Jesus any less than anyone else.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
So Christians, can we just drop the judgement already? I mean, how dare we. Christians should be the most loving, selfless, forgiving, compassionate people on the planet. And we're not. I believe that the #1 cause of atheism in the world is Christians. And that breaks my heart. So get out there and start loving people, helping people, serving people - in other words, BEING THE CHURCH. We were never meant to lock ourselves up in spotless rooms shining with stained glass, just "reading the manual" for the rest of our lives in our ankle-length denim skirts while casting haughty, superior eyes on those outside the front door. As my pastor likes to say, "the church was never meant to be a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners."
And non-Christians, atheists, agnostics, the GLBT community, and every other group of people who the Church has hurt over the centuries, I'm sorry. It is wrong, unfair, and un-Christlike to be filled with hatred and condemnation. There was a reason "religious people" and Jesus never got along - He wasn't one of them. And neither am I.