The Future of this Bridge Building Work
There was one quick sentence that the reporter Heather Sells said in the segment that was quite profound:
“It may take years to understand Marin’s impact on the Church and the LGBT community”
How true that statement actually is. In today’s on-demand culture there is an expectation of the immediate. People can immediately get news in real time on Twitter before it actually airs on TV. People can immediately voice their opinions on blogs in the exact moment of reading something. We can call, email, etc from anywhere at anytime. Hyper-connected, I think, is the official geeky term for our lives today.
The operation of the Church has fallen into these exact same negative cultural patterns. These days churches are working off of a success or failure model. But what is success? How do you define it? Numbers? Programs? People ‘saved’ by praying a prayer? No matter what someone believes is the correct definition, it’s all relative.
And none of it carries any weight in my book anyway.
Here are some thoughts on Success and Failure when it comes to Christianity and building bridges between the Church and the LGBT community:
Faithful commitment is Success
What if a LGBT person never agrees with a conservative interpretation of Scripture? What if they accept Jesus Christ and then pronounce they are a gay Christian? What if they say they hear God clearly tell them that living in a same-sex, committed and monogamous relationship is a blessed, God-ordained way of life? From a conservative perspective,
Have you not done your job?
Did you fail?
Are you not fulfilling even the most baseline of Christian standards?
The answer is that a faithful commitment to God is a success no matter what the outcome. Proverbs 16:3 says: “Commit tot he Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” The more accurate translation of Proverbs 16:3 is, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will be established“.
Success in God’s eyes is completely different from our modern understanding of the term.
The fallout from this incorrect alignment leads to a creation of false expectations for ourselves in comparison to God’s biblical promises. There are two main Kingdom differences between establishing and succeeding:
Succeeding is beating the competition with perceived outcomes that the mainstream (whether secular or religious) deems worthy.
Establishing is the spiritual understanding that there is personal contentment in faithful commitment. This is not an excuse to be lazy but it is the Kingdom parallel to the flesh’s second version of succeeding –
Succeeding is having contentment in knowing the outcome.
Both the Church and the LGBT community set themselves up for this disconnect because we use a model of Success vs. Failure – a model created with the rise of an ‘advanced’ Western mindset of philosophy, evolution and business. Each of those cultural metrics have since led us further from Christ’s metric of success. Hence the reason LGBT activist groups and religous right activist groups won’t be caught dead longing to establish anything with the other – because they both are trying too hard to ‘win’ the battle to see anything else.
The point of faith is not to beat up and conquer every other people group/belief system so we come out the ultimate winners. The point of faith is to establish Kingdom, here on earth as it is in Heaven, no matter what the outcome.
So do I know the outcome of what this bridge building work will look like in 40 years? Not that I know of. But 40 years down the road isn’t the point, and it’s not even in my remote focus. The point is to faithfully live out each day in relation to and relationship with those in my life, no matter what the outcome turns out to be four decades from now.
Faithful commitment is success. We will stop failing when we stop trying to succeed and start establishing Kingdom.