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37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself.
Today I’ll be discussing a very specific (and controversial) topic to deliver a broad reaching message. We will move from specific to general as we go, but I want you to have in your mind that loving through the father’s lenses should challenge you to check your heart when it comes to a variety of people and circumstances.
Let me start by listing two beliefs. Disclaimer: These are my personal opinions, and though I believe they are backed by bible verses, they are strictly speaking my personal thoughts and do not formally represent the church or my family. My only ask is that you do your best to read AND consider both before you react. If you can do that (regardless of whether you agree with me), you will experience growth in your spiritual and personal life.
Belief 1: I believe that, as a man, laying with another man as you would a woman is wrong (Leviticus 18:22, 1 Cor: 6:9-10) — and I believe the same for women.
Belief 2: I believe everyone (regardless of their beliefs, sexual preference, identity) should be loved, respected, and in many rights accepted because, like you and I, everyone has the choice to choose their beliefs without hate or persecution (1 Peter 4:8, John 13:34-35, Philemon 1:8-9).
Consider both beliefs — one that I believe non-binary relationships are wrong… and the other that everyone has a right to choose what they want to believe and still be loved. It probably sounds conflicting and almost certainly will raise feelings. If you agree with belief #1 (that non-binary relationships are wrong), you might be upset with my wording of #2 as it shows a level of support for people in non-binary relationships. And if you disagree with belief #1 (that non-binary relationships are just as right as binary relationships), I’m telling you that with #2 (everyone should be loved regardless of their belief), I believe you have the right to disagree and be loved regardless.
Again, these are my PERSONAL opinions and though I feel they are scripture backed, don’t formally represent the church or my family. I don’t expect those beliefs to change anytime soon…so if I’ve lost you this early in the message…well… Happy Father’s Day and I hope to catch you in next year’s message. I don’t need any death threats on Father’s Day 😡😂.
Loving through the father’s lenses: Looking through a lens will cause things to look differently. Even with the clearest lens you can find, there will always be some level of distortion because light is being filtered in some way. Sometimes it’s unnoticeable. Other times it’s blatantly obvious. The more drastic the filtering is, the more uncomfortable you will feel. Well that is today’s goal – not to change your belief. It is to change your view.
I started with two jarring statements on Father’s Day. Why? Well, if you live in America, you likely have not gone a single day this month without seeing or hearing something related to LGBTQ+ Pride Month. In June, we have lots of marriage anniversaries, Father’s Day, Juneteenth, Flag Day, Finally Summer Day (summer solstice), Best Friend’s Day, and plenty others… but the WHOLE month is Pride month.
Every year prior I’ve done the same thing — ignore Pride month. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t read about the origins. Live my life. But for better or worse, it can’t be ignored anymore. And being completely honest – Christians shouldn’t ignore it – the same way Jesus didn’t ignore anyone he loved (which is everyone). To ignore the month is to ignore the people who support it — and to ignore them is to go against everything the bible tells us to as Christians. Love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39). Go out into the world and teach all creation (Mark 16:15).
Now I’m sure at this point I’ve lost a lot of you so feel free to reread my beliefs above if you need. Reminder, we are talking about loving through the father’s lenses, not our earthly lenses.
I bring this up on Father’s Day because I’ve finally decided to do something that I believe will grow me as a believer and a leader — force myself to look at and love others through the father’s lenses. Since we’re not God, none of us will do that perfectly. But through his word and his examples, we can work to do our best.
Let’s do a short(ish) thinking exercise. Think about someone you love ❤️🤔 – and this can be yourself if you like. Might even be a better exercise if you do. Actually, you know what, let’s do that. Think about yourself. Now if you don’t love yourself, that’s another lesson in itself and I’d encourage you to start there before even worrying about this message. But let’s work on the love you have for yourself.
Why is it easy to love yourself? A few reasons. You have no competition with yourself. You have no disagreements. You have a lot of the characteristics you like, and the ones you don’t like you agree that you want to change them. You are you, and you are right.
Now think about someone you loathe. Who are they really? They’re inconsiderate. They don’t know what’s good for you or themselves. They need help. They make you angry, sad, uncomfortable, whatever. They are not you, and they are not right.
Of course you know that the bible says love your neighbor as yourself. And that is where we get stuck. Always. Why?
Because we see THEY and not ME. We see THEM and not US. We see a creation and not God’s creation. And because of this we say it is not good. But God created the world. THE World. And as much as it changes and fails us at times, he saw it as good (Gen. 1:31).
It is because of this that we must challenge ourselves to look at a brother and sister — regardless of their gender, belief, history, and say “I love you in spite of our differences”. And as we broaden what that means, that includes not just Christians, not just the LGBTQ+ community, but the KKK, proclaimed Atheist, rich and privileged, poor and famished. We must look through the lenses of the Father and say, “You make me uncomfortable. You make me angry. But you are my brother and sister. You were created by God, and because of that, I can love you in spite of….[fill in the blank].”
We pray for people not because we hate them. We pray for people not because we want to change them. We pray for them because we love them. If we don’t love them — then we don’t love God — and that is not up for debate. That is not just my personal belief, that is straight from the bible (1 John 4:20-21).
So I challenge you today. Whether you believe in gay marriages or not. Trans male and trans female or not. Pride or not. Racist or not. Sexist or not. You or not. I challenge you to check where your heart is when you think of the word Them. How do you really feel about Them, whoever, Them is. Do you treat Them with the love of the Father or the love of man? There is only one true love and that is what we must seek in everything we do. Take off the earthly glasses and experience the father’s lenses. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it will bring the clarity and peace that (not THEY, but) WE need.