2 Corinthians 5:16-21
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view;even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I never felt more clearly called than when I entered youth ministry in 1992. For ten years, God blessed us with dedicated, passionate leadership, and our ministry grew to one of the largest in the state. After attending Perkins School of Youth Ministry, I was asked to teach and then chair the event. It was there I first realized there were others “like me,” passionately serving God, living at best with discretion, at worst in denial of who God created us to be.
It was there, too, that I became aware of the Reconciling movement when a colleague shared “Finishing the Journey,” a study by Northaven UMC. One contributor was Arkansas Bishop Richard Wilke, who co-authored Disciple Bible Study. Bishop Wilke wrote: “I am amazed at my lifelong ignorance of homosexuality; I did not understand (or worry about) my energetic, popular youth leaders who did not date;” Wow. My Bishop was talking about me. It was one of the most liberating moments of my life.
In his letter, Paul calls the church in Corinth to “regard no one from a worldly point of view,” but isn’t that exactly what we do when we allow fear and bias to exclude anyone from living as full members of the body of Christ? How many, like I, have abandoned our ministry or church because we cannot believe that God would demand a life of secrecy or denial?
I’m proud of my United Methodist heritage and ‘a better person for having been raised in a church that preaches mercy, justice and grace. But, like so many, I have felt marginalized by my church. This season of Lent, it’s my prayer that l live as “Christ’s Ambassador” and open my heart and mind to the marginalized around me. Perhaps then our church’s doors will follow.
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