Volume 6: Issue 2
Blessing Our Persecutors
Table Of Contents
Cover Story: Blessing Our Persecutors:
When it comes to blessing our persecutors, we need to readjust our ideas of what constitutes a blessing. The blessing we give to our enemies does not have to come in the form of comforting words or actions. Even if our words or actions are meant to give comfort, like literally giving food or water to our enemies, it won't be perceived as kindness, because our enemies don't believe we're capable of bringing God's blessings down. Instead, our words and actions will feel like hot coals being heaped upon their heads.
God recognizes a power in us that we seldom see in ourselves - a power to bless or to curse. As tempting as it is sometimes to choose the curse, that is not what we are about and it is not what we follow Jesus for.
Frequently in our struggle for full, unequivocal legal and ecclesiastical equality, we demonize and distance ourselves from
those with whom we disagree. Like any abused creature, we growl and bark at, and occasionally bite, the one who hurt us in the
past. We can even see how we directly `make' our own enemies, giving them power and influence just by virtue of our
defensive reaction to their anti-gay activities ...
Our enemies are those who prevent God's realm of love and liberation being made real on earth. Those who hate, those who allow oppression to flourish, those
who limit love, those who are me and those who are you.
And God's response to those of us who do this, those of us who sin, is to love us and to forgive us.
So, we must bless those who curse us by doing good for them and praying for them. Sounds like a tough enough challenge for one lifetime to me. And this was only one of Jesus' harder requirements. Because, you see, it is something our Lord requires of us. Were it not so, Jesus would have said something like, "Bless those who curse you whenever you feel like doing it, and I'll understand that you're only human if you choose not to."
Yes, we were being picketed by Fred Phelps and his followers. Kansas City isn't too far down the road from Phelps' headquarters in Topeka, Kansas. Our denominations were both fag churches, according to him, because we allowed gay and lesbian people as members. I felt sickened. They reminded me of Nazis. But how could I respond? What could I do that wouldn't feed their self-righteous frenzy and appetite for conflict and publicity?
am suggesting that liberal and conservative, heterosexual and LGBT,
legalistic and non-legalistic Christians seek to find their common
ground in Jesus as opposed to church and denominational doctrines and
creeds. I believe that far too many Christians are more concerned with
what they define as "true Christians" should not do and not concerned
enough with defining what Christians should do to embody Christ's
The power of nonviolence to create REAL CHANGE is phenomenal. But only if I'm willing to allow that change to begin in myself. Am I willing to love someone who thinks and acts differently from me?
But now I'm going to say something you're not going to want to hear: with very few exceptions, we Christians in North America and Europe haven't the remotest idea of what it means to be persecuted. Further, as Christians who are not of heterosexual orientation, we are reviled because of our sexual orientation rather than because we are Christians - except for the disgust that some non-heterosexuals have toward Christianity and, indeed, toward religion in general.
Many in the GLBT communities equate Christianity with pain, prejudice
and persecution, and turn their backs on the source of all love and
light, Jesus the Christ. For those of us whose experience with Jesus
has been intimate and ongoing, the persecution we have known has caused
us to rethink our faith. We have needed to strip away any archaic
cliches and get to the bare bones of our interaction with Jesus, with
his commandments, his promises and his infilling.
We have tendencies that when we hear that somebody is on our case, we dwell on it for hours, or even days. But the attack is a test of whether we have the fruit of forgiveness.
--By: Roger Stratton
Blessing your persecutors is more for your good than for theirs. This doesn't mean we are not to separate ourselves from distressing situations and people, but only when we pray for guidance and try to act from unconditional love do we know if there is anything we can do for our persecutor other than blessing them from afar. Some people are not ready to learn from us, but whether they learn or whether they do not, we have only one appropriate reaction. Love. Love conquers all.
By eating with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus is
how we are to live and love one another. It should be clear that the
which were considered binding about who is socially acceptable were to
discarded if they served to punish or exclude a particular group.
children, foreigners and other marginalized groups are singled out for
particular favor by Jesus; time and again we see him making a special
to demonstrate how the weak and disadvantaged should be treated.
Freedom and true release from oppression in the Church and in the
world are at the end of the road. The question is how does the Church
arrive there? How can gay and straight people come to love each other
in a healthy atmosphere of ecclesiastical space, putting aside past
incidents of hate?
I can honestly respect the views of those, whether conservative or liberal, who oppose stem cell research because of their sincerely held religious or ethical beliefs on the origins of human life. The ones I cannot respect, however, are the ones for whom this issue is just one part of a much bigger agenda. For them, maintaining that agenda is far more important than their supposed "convictions" about protecting the smallest of human lives.
Sharp's book is a guide on how to wrestle with the angels, and though we may experience great pain, we'll also experience great blessings. But, we must realize that when we give ourselves permission to wrestle with the angels and with our faith we have to step outside that realm of "spiritual correctness" and face the threats and insults from those who would seek to push us back in line.
The Prayer of Jesus will NOT become a cult success because it doesn't
promise what The Prayer of Jabez promises: that the Lord will reward us
materially. Rather, The Prayer of Jesus calls us to sacrifice because
the focus is on the Lord and allowing Him to do what He wants to do in
It is time to take another step towards integrating cross-dressers into
mainstream Christianity. When I was seeking answers to my cross-dressing
questions, one of my correspondents gave me exceptionally helpful advice that
I continue to heed - take lots of small steps!
From The Pulpit:
God fishes with a net, because God
wants everyone. And that means that God is going to get everyone, and
God is not waiting until we are healed before we are allowed into God's
loving embrace. No, it is in that embrace where the healing happens.
And we Christians, who have all been netted by God's love, find
ourselves in close quarters with a family we haven't chosen. And God
said, "This family won't work unless you get along. Put your
differences aside, and love each other just like I love you all."
This is Love
--By: Elisabeth Anne Kellogg
So my brothers and sisters, I must ask the question, "Who are the Sodomites?" It is the established, legalistic, loveless church that is walking in the ways of Sodom. And in that remarkable way that God makes "the last to be first and the first to be last," we are called upon by God to pray for the salvation of the church lest we be found to be loveless and arrogant ourselves.
Bible Study and Inspiration:
The Samaritan woman was open to receiving the message that Jesus Christ
was bringing to her, and He loved her as a child of the kingdom for
that. Where the religious leaders and the so-called "cream" of Judean
society thought someone like her was not worth the breath they drew,
the very Son of God made a special trip just to offer her a place in
His coming kingdom. He reached out to her and she reached back.
For millennia, sexism and homophobia have gone hand in hand, and the
epistles have been unpopular in LGBT communities for the ways in which
appear to lend authority to oppressive and discriminatory treatment of
and sexual minorities. Yet a close analysis of relevant passages
more nuanced position.
Our text makes it clear that we are not to speak evil of one another.
To do so is not only to speak evil of a brother or sister in Christ, but
to speak evil of the very commands of God as well. We are also not to
judge -- meaning to condemn -- one another, because to do so is to judge
or condemn the very commands of God.
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