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CWH: What kind of change do we expect?
> The question is, what kind of change do we expect?
Good question. I suggest that we not re-invent the answer. The Bible
offers numerous "short lists" which I find very challenging to measure the
presence of absence of God from my own life. My favorite short list is
Micah's: "What does God require: Do justice; love mercy; walk humbly."
We can most cogently encourage the stranger to join us in striving to
those goals if we model them in our treatment of the stranger.
Contrary to popular opinion, lesbigays aren't standing in great numbers
banging to get into churches. Some of the most spiritual persons I know,
gay and straight, often pity me for thinking the church has anything
spiritual to offer. They're not suddenely going to change their minds
when Christians reluctantly decide "Well, maybe we ought to let them in,
but only if they accept our view of them." But churches will be packed
with sinners seeking redemption if they see living proof that church
members have been changed and now do justice, love mergy, and walk humbly.
"Love mercy." I have never once heard a sermon on that. It's not
important to most people. When was the last time you saw a person you
could describe most essentially as "loving mercy"? Yet how often have you
seen someone glad to be righteous and quick to point out "Gotcha!" to
someone deemed not righteous. That is certainly the image the Church has
in the minds of the unchurched that I know.
Or we might go for Jesus's short list: Love god; love your neighbor
(even the Samaritans, yes) as you love yourself.
Or we might measure our community's impact on the stranger by looking for
the fruits of spirit in any one of St. Paul's many lists, such as "love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and
self-control (Galatians 5:22)
Imagine how many folks, not just lesbians and gays only, would show up for
a church "filled with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing
with one another in love" (Ephes. 4:2)
Thanks again for asking the right question.