In studying for the sex forum I want to lead at church (whee!) I found a wonderful verse - 1 Timothy 4:4. Thanks to a tip I once received from Grags I looked up The Message to see it from a different angle. What a difference it makes!
(1-5) The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they've lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They'll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God's Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.
I have read it over and over again now, and all I can think of is politics. "These liars have lied so well and for so long that they've lost their capacity for truth." But the interesting part is that my mind didn't jump to Democrats: it jumped to Republicans. Or at least, I should say, the Conservatives I encounter so often...
There are many smart, caring, truly wonderful Christians that I love and respect whose beliefs make me want to cry. I know I haven't got it all right - these same people might feel the same 'loss' for me - but I cannot stomach any belief that makes God out to be hateful or intolerant.
I am not so naive as to believe that God is always "nice". Being a Christian isn't meant to be easy; God isn't interested in whether or not we are "happy". We should have joy and contentment, both of which can exist without happiness. He tells us things are wrong and evil in his sight, and I believe it. I also believe in his never-ending forgiveness, our unearnable salvation (grace) and his all-consuming love.
"They will tell you not to get married." I cannot read this verse without feeling true remorse for the "congregants" of Westboro. Those poor souls are so poisoned with hatred and false righteousness that they drown in it. They rejoice in people's pain and mock those who suffer, and they think they do so to God's honor. Nothing could be further from The Truth.
This verse in 1 Timothy gives me a breath of fresh hope. God should be honored in all things we do. If I get a tattoo of a Bible verse scrawled across my back, it can be in God's honor: think of the wonderful conversations it could start! Ever seen bikers for Christ? People get a certain image, often negative, when they think of motorcycle gangs, but I've seen them spouting scripture and sharing the Word in places some Christians fear to tread.
Speaking of bikers for Christ, Bammel has a group that tours in the MS150 every year called "Traveling Light". For me personally, riding a bike for 5 minutes, let alone 150 miles, would be a very unChristian experience - I know me, I know this body and this foul mouth... But these people take an ordinary activity and do it to God's honor. This is what we are called to do!
I know I rambled a bit (gasp!), but I really wanted to get these ideas down. Everything we do should praise God, whether or not someone else thinks it can praise God. It can be accepting a neighbor as they are or riding across Texas.
Everything (Can Be) Beautiful and Nothing (Should Have To) Hurt