It’s refreshing to see the church having more nuanced conversations in the application of God’s grace and truth to a hurting world. As you know, we talk a lot about these very things often at Where Grace Abounds. Why do we bring this topic up repeatedly? Because it’s SO hard to live it out on a daily basis.
Applying God’s truth and grace in every situation is like walking on a razor-thin edge—it’s easy to tumble off balance onto a side heavy-laden with either. A question we often get is “How do I uphold God’s grace and truth—especially when it comes to engaging various LGBTQ people and communities? The men, women and situations are as diverse as the many letters in the acronym. There are many factors and variables to consider. But here are a few thoughts and reminders I’ve been sharing in churches recently, as we attempt to wrap our arms around these immense realities—100% God’s Grace, 100% God’s Truth…No Compromise.
God’s Truths Which Can Lead to Pathways of Grace
A good place to start are Jesus’s challenging words right smack dab in the Sermon on the Mount. They were and still are revolutionary. Just think how the world would be a different place if we actually lived out His truths? Let’s consider just a few of them:
“…I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them.” Matthew 5:44 TPL
“Refuse to be a critic full of bias toward others and judgement will not be passed on you. For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others.” Matthew 7:1-2 TPL
“Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and yet fail to notice the glaring flaws in your own? You’re being a hypocrite! First acknowledge your own blind spots and deal with them, and then you’ll be capable of dealing with the ‘blind spot’ of your friend.” Matthew 7:3, 5 TPL
“In everything you do, be careful to treat others the same way you’d want them to treat you, for that is the essence of all the teaching of the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 TPL
I like how Jesus puts it right back on to each of us—beginning with our own personal walk. If we really were obedient and lived out these words of truth, “spaces of grace” would be created around our Christian communities. We’d be safe, humble, non-judgmental, forgiving people. World changing.
God’s Grace Which Can Lead to Pathways of Truth
For many of us in our Christian lives, imparting God’s truths have been somewhat akin to long, lengthy lectures making sure everyone knows “what and what not to do”. And I can say from experience that long, lengthy (and I’ll add, boring and self-righteous) lectures don’t seem very revolutionary and hardly change hearts or win souls.
But, when we create those spaces of grace as in above—they can hopefully lead to more truthful conversations down the road. God does that with each of us.
“Do the riches of His extraordinary kindness make you take Him for granted and despise Him? Have you experienced how kind and understanding He has been to you? Don’t mistake His tolerance for acceptance. Do you realize that all the wealth of His extravagant kindness is meant to melt you heart and lead you into repentance?” Roman 2:4 TPL
Many LGBTQ+ folks have been bludgeoned by God’s truth from His people, sadly. Here are a few tips that might encourage the grace and truth process prayerfully.
Level the playing field with humility—Remember Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35? If we realized we’d been forgiven a great debt and were an enemy of the cross only saved by His grace, we’d lead from this humble posture.
Take time to listen and earn trust to have deeper conversations—This is good advice for relating to anyone, not just LGBTQ+ people. But really listen to their stories. Did they come from a faith background? Do they have a history of shame conflict and negative experiences with family or church? Have they come to certain faith or theological decisions? There’s a lot to be compassionate about as we listen.
Level the playing field by calling the whole church to repentance—I’m sure most LGBTQ+ often wonder—why is my sexuality or gender identification the thing being highlighted from church goers? And amazingly, these issues might not be the first thing God would want to address in someone’s life. It could be farther down the list of His priorities. There’s enough sin in the church regarding sexuality to go around—let’s deal with the double standard.
We follow in the steps of our Savior when we hold fast and obey His words. Not an easy path, but the best one.
We’re Launching Our New WGA Video Series!
Want to know how to uphold grace and truth with an LGBTQ+ loved one or friend? Come check out our new video series that we spent a good chunk of 2023 filming. It’s actually called The “UPHOLD” Series. We uphold God’s grace. We uphold God’s truth. We uphold one another as supportive communities. If this blog was helpful, pass it on to someone and see the trailer for the series at upholdmministry.org. Let us know what you think—we’d love to hear from you. You can also follow us on our Instagram page at upholdgraceandtruth.
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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