“Jesus came for everyone.”

Those words made me so…angry…as they fell from our pastor’s lips during the Palm Sunday sermon.

They are the cornerstone of my faith, a divine reminder that God is bigger than anything. I usually find peace in that fundamental truth, which should be the prevailing principle upon which the church on earth stands.

But when I heard them I wept, for I know that the voice that preached those words has also personally driven away a loving family who only wanted to serve Christ and our church – drove them away, because they are gay.

Many in The UMC have not realized that our church has become the modern equivalent to the Temple courtyard, only the siblings we turn away are lumped into different categories. The LGBT community and allies. People who look or act outside of the mainstream, who defy what we think a “good Christian” should represent.

Jesus came to show us radical love, yet if He chose 2015 to come to earth I fear He would be on the receiving end of so much discrimination that’s maliciously perpetrated in His name.

Every time a child of God is shunned, maligned, discriminated against or compelled to turn away from His love and grace represents a fresh nail driven into the bleeding hands and feet of a heartbroken Christ.

The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts being debated and passed in 20 states? Nails of personal preference cloaked in claims of “religious freedom,” each person conveniently forgetting (or ignoring) that to follow Jesus is not to bask in freedom – it’s to surrender the self to His will.

The UMC’s intransigence on allowing LGBT believers, both clergy and laypeople, to engage in full ministry according to the way God created them? Another nail.

Every pastor who preaches a message of full inclusion only to turn and twist the meaning of “everyone” to fit doctrine born of the same personal preference?

Nail.

Nail.

Nail.

It’s tempting to ask where Jesus is while all of this is happening. And many do.

He is on the cross.

He is the transgender youth who is rejected by family and ridiculed by peers, and who desperately seeks love and acceptance.

He is the tattooed former addict who embraces the Bible’s message of love and grace but is turned back from the pew by sidelong glances.

He is the church planter who creates a safe space for all to approach the throne.

He is still flipping tables and wailing in grief and anger born of His unfathomable, uncompromising love.

Jesus came for everyone. He died for everyone. As we stand vigil at the cross today, I pray that we may feel His suffering and remember our call to reflect His love – not our desires.

He is on the cross…and as darkness falls, may He break our hearts for what breaks His.

Shannon Trenton

Shannon Trenton is a writer, wife, and mother to an adorable little boy and two cats. She is also an Exploring Candidate in the East Ohio Conference of The UMC, where she hopes to further her passion for ministering in love and grace to all believers. She believes, "we are blessed so that we may be a blessing," and she wants to share God's love and grace with everyone she meets!

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