Last weekend I lead worship for a conference in Wisconsin. The Conference was for a ministry called Exodus International. I really didn’t know a ton about them when I got invited to play, but the little I had heard was pretty sweet. Well, I was blown away. It was probably one of the more powerful conferences I think I have ever been a part of. Exodus is a ministry designed to help believers with same sex attraction struggles.
I have to say it was an incredible time. It was eye opening and beautiful. Whether you were someone that struggled with same sex attraction, sexual addiction, or to be honest anything else under the son it spoke right to the heart. I found myself not really expecting to be minister too, but leaving the conference feeling like I received a 1000 times more that I had given. I got to meet about a 100 or so people, that for them, same sex attraction is not just a political point, or a theoretical struggle or sin, but a daily battle that they did not want to be in.
The topic of homosexuality is one that is extremely feared, not understood, and thus ignorantly discussed on a regular basis within the church. It touches so many lives and stems from so many different reasons and causes. It is so emotional, both for the ones that struggle with it and for the family and friends that are involved as well. I by no means have all the answers on this topic. But here are some thoughts from the weekend.
I saw a room full of people that struggled with something they did not want to struggle with. And that were seeking God intensely for His mercy, grace, and power. I could not help but see myself in their struggle. Not with same sex attraction, but with the many thorns that are in my flesh. Whether it be lust, envy, pride etc. my heart’s desire was the same. And our desire, love for God, and desire to please Him was the same. These were people that were honestly coming before God and each other and recognizing and confessing their sin. Not minimizing it. Not denying that their desires were sinful, but owning it and seeking to be changed. I found myself asking “Do I pursue holiness and fight my struggles this hard?” There were different stories all over the room. From stories of redemption and healing, to deliverance and victory and that struggle being just a distant memory, to ones that had not acted on the desire for years and years, but it was still an occasional temptation and battle that they needed to acknowledge. Also stories from some that are still right there in the thick of a daily struggle to turn from it. A struggle that sometimes succeeds, sometimes fails. And then also family and friends that were there to support, better understand, pray, and love them deeply as Christ loves us all.
Wherever they were in their journey the reason why they were there was the same. They were sinners saved by grace that knew that their desire was sinful and they desperately wanted to change. They loved God and wanted to please Him with all of their heart. It was one of the clearest and most beautiful real life pictures of the gospel I think I have ever seen. The room was alive! Alive with people that understood what it is to be a follower of Christ. Alive with people that knew they needed a savior, broken of pride and a sense of hard-hearted entitlement. A room full of people that knew what it meant to deny one’s self in the pursuit of obedience to God. A room full of people that knew this was not their true body and this is not their true home! And a group of people humble enough to admit they need help and the Spirit of God to move. It was eye opening.
I was thinking throughout the weekend, why is this kind of honesty, community, humility, and easily viewable picture of the Gospel so hard to find! Why should this weekend be moving me more, and be so incredibly different than what I experience in the Christian Church every day? Why is MY worship a lot of time so passionless! Why is my desire to deny myself for the purposes and pleasures of God so inconsistent and a lot of times emotionless!
The truth of the matter is I am a murderer, a thief, and an adulterer! I am prideful and selfish! I am a gossip and a slanderer! How dare I point my finger, even in my mind, at another person’s sin and put it on trial as if it is heavier or worse than mine! What would it be like to struggle with something that the majority of the church has no patience for? No grace. No love. No understanding. Insert YOUR thorn into that blank. It is absolutely no different. The penalty is the same. And the wage you earn by committing it is identical.
The devil is our enemy and idolatry is his strongest arrow. When we become prideful to the point where we forget what we have been saved from and our desperate need for a savior, we no longer are friends of the gospel, we are enemies of it! Our standing before God foolishly rests on our own false goodness. Our worship becomes cold and passionless. Our faith becomes religious and we become little more than modern day Pharisees.
What would it look like if we (The Church) were truly honest before God and each other. TRULY sharing in each other’s burdens and struggles? TRULY lived out the gospel, which is a gospel of confession and repentance?
Heavenly Father, forgive us for our prideful hearts and the idolatry of worshiping our own image!! Purge us from this false reality and help us lives honest, broken, and VICTORIOUS lives in Christ Jesus!! Praise You for Your grace, for I am in need of it more anyone of the planet!! Awaken us to the Love of God!!
A movement starts with one…..