As a culture, we are wrestling with issues of sexuality and marriage and its implications on our country. As Christians, it is important to understand that there are two parts to this discussion for which the lines often get blurred and the need for clarity is paramount. Part one is the ideological battle that is being waged as the question, “did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1) comes forward regarding sexuality and marriage. Part two of this question is how are we to treat others who, like ourselves, are in desperate need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Here at Westside, we have had a wonderful opportunity to welcome two special guests who have modeled the proper response to both of these challenges. The ministry of David Zailer allowed us to hear, first hand, the impact of abuse and life choices that led him toward a path that included years of sexual brokenness and drug addiction. David’s story involved initial abuse at the hands of those he trusted most within the church. This led to years of complete distrust of anything related to a church setting. Ultimately, God would use those closest to him to draw David back into a real relationship with God.
This last weekend, the ministry of Dennis Jernigan blessed our church as we had the opportunity to listen to a man who struggled with homosexuality from childhood into adulthood. At the same time, Dennis wrestled with the call of God that was evident through the gifts and talents for which Dennis was uniquely blessed. Dennis explained his triumphs and failures all the while allowing our church body a rare opportunity to grow in our understanding of the need to be a place that loves enough to embrace those who seem different and to care enough not to leave them the same way we found them.
As we listened to these two men and heard their stories, we identified with the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. As a result of our time with these men a few conclusions have resulted:
Our church will be a place that celebrates the “WERE” of God
In 1 Corinthians 6:11, after providing the church of Corinth a list of things that keep men from entering eternity with God, Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that such “WERE” some of you. We often need to be reminded that apart from the Grace of God, we too would experience God’s wrath. All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) and fallen short of God’s Glory. As believers who understand God’s Grace, it is important for us to shine a light to the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus.
We are a church that embraces broken people. We’re made up of them…we’re staffed by them
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 7:15 that all of us wage a war with sin in our lives. Each of us finds ourselves doing the things we wish we didn’t and not doing those things that we wish we would do. Romans 8:1 reminds us that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” We are also reminded that as believers we are to live a life according to the Spirit of God. Understanding the fact that we all are at some stage of brokenness should provide comfort rather than condemnation. As a church, we have a responsibility to understand and acknowledge the needs of others.
This is a safe place to live life, wrestle with challenges, and discover who we are in Jesus. It’s “ok” not to be “ok” here
As the culture wages war over these issues, believers need to be clear about where we stand. We stand with the Word of God as we provide a safe place for believers to wrestle with all kinds of challenges. Our church is not full of perfect people but rather people who have been forgiven by our wonderful Savior. Westside should be place where it’s “ok” not to be “ok.” We understand that this is the same manner in which we have been given grace and by which we allow God’s grace to be experienced by others.