I suppose I am not alone in being offended by the controversy over whether Louie Giglio or someone else is going to pray at the ceremony for President Barack Obama's second term as president.  My reasons, though, probably put me in a very small minority.

I respect Giglio, and I respect his decision.  In that, I've just separated myself from those who vehemently wanted him removed from that role, but I've also separated myself from most Christians who seem to have missed everything Giglio did not say when he declined.  His statement, "Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago..." is a far cry from stridently defending the sanctity of his current beliefs against any (insert numerous complaints from religious conservatives) abomination.

This shouldn't be particularly confusing. Most politically active Christians struggle to comprehend things Jesus did not say or do either.  They would be just as quick to presume their favorite words of condemnation fit just as nicely into Giglio's mouth, too.

I am not offended by what Giglio did or didn't say.  I'm disappointed, but not offended, by those who made the call for Obama to rescind the invitation which Giglio preemptively declined.  My views have changed as information has grown over the past 15-20 years.  I have asked God for wisdom as well, which implies a desire for growth that cannot happen without development and often change.  Perhaps the same can be said about Giglio.

No, I'm offended by some of the Christian responses, including this one by Randy Alcorn:

We redefine sin, and minimize it in a misguided attempt to win people by saying what they’d rather hear. What bothered me most as I read dozens and dozens of comments was seeing professing Christians distance themselves from Louie Giglio. These new kind of “Christians” are a mirror image of this culture, craving popularity and acceptance. If that’s you, please understand—and I am trying to be honest, not cruel—that you bear no resemblance to what it has meant for two thousand years to be a true follower of Christ. Believe what you choose to, but please, in the interests of accuracy, stop calling yourself a Christian.

Stop right there.  Being a true follower of Christ is not about maintaining the mantle of empire bestowed upon Christianity by Emperor Constantine centuries ago.  Throughout those years, many Christians have called for the church to correct its course.  Martin Luther alone is proof that this notion of Christian understandings of both scripture and science being unchanged for 2,000 years is false.  More to the point, Jesus doesn't command us to believe anywhere near as often as he commands us to do:

  • Go and do likewise
  • Feed the hungry
  • Care for widows and orphans
  • Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for me
  • Go and make disciples

Those of us who do the things that Jesus commanded -- and, to be honest, a great many Christians are much more accomplished than I am -- bear a much better resemblance to the true followers of Christ than anyone who is so committed to a political position that he or she would deny evidence, scientific research, and testimony even from believers who understand homosexuality in a way that I, frankly, never will.

If we are to love God with all of our hearts and souls and strengths and minds, as Christ commanded, then we need to stop attacking other Christians who are using their minds.  If there is to be a litmus test for "true Christianity" after all, Jesus tells us that his followers will love God this completely and love their neighbors selflessly.  Who is your neighbor?  Of course, that question was asked and answered in Luke 10.  Jesus was answering the same question in Matthew 25 when he spoke of "the least of these."

Giglio's speech from decades ago and Alcorn's defense of that viewpoint today clearly speak about "the least of these."  The problem is that you cannot identify a group of people with such dismissive terminology and ignore the fact that denying they exist (it's "just a choice" or there is "no such thing" as a non-heterosexual identity) also denies the existence of Christ in the hearts of those who presume to call themselves the only true believers.

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me," Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 25:45, New International Version)

I am a Christ Follower, a Christian, a man who has faith in Jesus in part because of the role the Holy Spirit has played in my life.  I have asked some (certainly not all) tough questions of my Lord and I've been blessed to have heard answers.  I do not presume that every thought that enters into my head is "of God."  Likewise, though, I don't presume that God has nothing to tell me, that he is done answering prayer, and that God has nothing more to reveal through his Spirit even though we know much more is being revealed through the light of conscience and nature, as Paul described in his letters.

I'm more than willing to believe Giglio has taken such an ambivalent stance toward this controversy because he knows that God isn't finished with him yet. I hope the same can be said of me.  I'm not unaware of what has been called "Christian" for the past 2,000 years, but I'm also alert for what the Lord is doing around us at this very moment.  It's possible that 2,000 years from now, how we behave today as Christians -- what we "do" as opposed to what we "believe" -- will be part of the tapestry of faith that our distant ancestors will refer to  homogeneously as what "Christianity has meant for the past four thousand years."

May this be the moment when we decided that calling on people to lie to and about themselves "for the sake of Christ" is an abomination.  May this be the day that what we've been led to believe about our neighbors stops having any relevance to our ministry compared to what we go and do ... as Jesus commanded.

Inappropriate Conversations
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