We hear in the news and on the street that all people should be accepted for who they think they are. If they were born a girl but identify as a boy, we should accept that and treat them as if they were, indeed, a boy or vice-versa.
This goes even further because now people are claiming to be non-binary, a mixture of both or fluid (sometimes fully a boy and sometimes fully a girl). More and more there has developed around the world, an identity crisis. Young people, especially, are looking to fill the void within them by trying to become someone other than who people see on the outside.
It’s easy to pin it on some sort of mental disability like gender dysphoria but is it because of something even deeper? Does their confusion stem from the brain or does it stem from the heart? Further, how does their lack of acceptance play into how they feel about themselves.
Many churches are wrestling with this, asking themselves who should be accepted and who shouldn’t. If people are unapologetically gay, should we allow them membership? If someone wants us to acknowledge their change of sexual identity, should we give into that request? What would Jesus do?
Let’s find out. We’ll start first with a passage that been used a lot lately both to condemn and to accept those who are in the midst of an identity issue. It’s from Matthew 7:1-5, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
On the one side one might think that this means that we should accept everyone for whoever and whatever they want to be and not judge. After all, your no better. But if we look further into the context, we see that this section is followed by another. From Matthew 7: 7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
In this context, we see that Jesus is not saying we should never judge, but He is saying that, when you do, you should come to Him first. He is saying first, before you judge, take an account of your own sins. First come to understand your own need for repentance. Then, when you feel judgement is due, first go to the one who decides all fates, even your own.
First and foremost, our focus should be on salvation. Jesus said in John 6:37, All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Not accepting someone because they don’t fit your idea of what a true Christian should be shows only ignorance. The greater purpose would be to act in love to bring someone to Christ, no matter who they are or what they think. The salvation of every soul should be our goal. Jesus never casts out those who come to Him.
Next, before we judge, God through Paul says that we should bear godliness. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14).
There is nothing here about righteous indignation or unacceptance in any way. Instead, God expects you to act as His Son acted, in love and compassion, with kindness, meekness and humility. More than anything, he expects us to practice forgiveness, even as He has forgiven you.
It’s much too easy to get caught up in our differences, but maybe we should be more concerned with our likeness. We are all sinners looking for our identity, We are all longing for people to accept us for who we are. Attacking others because they aren’t like us does much more harm than good and is not an attribute that God supports.
Instead He asks us to love each other, no matter our supposed deficiencies, even as we work for change through love in those who have chosen paths that might be contrary to God’s wishes for them. Together we can unite to make love the factor that brings the greatest change. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for making us all unique. If we have veered away from Your plans for us, help us to change and if we see others who have chosen the wrong path according to your Word, help us to bring about change through Your love. Amen.