I am, right now, just returning from a church service. A service that has inspired me to write this follow-up article to Nature vs. Morality. Because just as I have a bone to pick with the homosexuals, I also have one to pick with my fellow Christians.
Now, there is a particular prayer that I have been hearing a lot of in recent times. I have heard pastors preach it, followers recite it, and people use it very casually in conversation - and it goes something like this:
Dear God, please remove all those who are negative influences on me from my life. So that I may better serve you.
Personally, this prayer irritates me because I believe it shows a certain lack of understanding, and I know that some of you who say this prayer, may be offended by my opinion. But you see, while the Bible does say, that you should cut off your right hand if it is causing you to sin, it also says:
We are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.
Meaning that really, it is our job to set an example; and to spread good flavour, and good light throughout the world. Yet, what good is a lamp, in a world of light? If every single person around you is positive, then even though you may shine ever brighter (because iron sharpeneth iron), you shine for no one but yourself.
To me, the presence of people who try to negatively influence us, is a blessing in as much as it can be a temptation. It is a chance for us to shine, and for us to proclaim the glory of God. It means that you can be that beacon in someone else's darkness. A place for them to find refuge, and a person from whom they can learn about Christ.
So to pray beforehand to never have this opportunity, or to have it removed, is foolishness! How are you supposed to better serve God, if you're constantly praying that he remove all service opportunities from your life!? Instead, you should be asking for the strength to resist their influence, and the wisdom and guidance to become those people's positive influence! You should attract such people, and you should direct them to the way, the truth, and the life.
Which brings us back to the embarrassing example of homosexuality. Have we been a refuge for gay people as they come to terms with their predilection? Have we been beacons of love and care, pointing the way to Jesus Christ? No! We have not. We have condemned, persecuted, and abused; To the point where gay people are not even willing to try anymore. They don't want to hear what God has to say, and they sure as hell don't want to listen to any of us!
It is something that we should all be ashamed of; and instead of sitting on our high horses passing judgement, be willing to come down and try as hard as possible to win these people back for Christ with love and care.
Because in all truth and honesty, one of the messages that God left for us in the books from Genesis to Revelations is quite simple; and it is this:
Due to the mistakes of Adam and Eve, sin became a part of our very nature - and so, achieving righteousness became a struggle. It became a daily battle with our natural inclinations towards violence, and lust, and every other sinful desire imaginable. Time and again, humans gave in to our sinful natures. Despite signs and wonders, despite punishment, despite rules and laws, even the most righteous men continued to fall into sin.
Still, because God loves us so much, He made the greatest sacrifice of love any cognisant being has ever and will ever make: by sending his only begotten son to die for us, and wipe our filthy slates clean.
Furthermore, he did this knowing that we would continue to struggle with sin, and so he said:
For whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Nature is not our friend (it doesn't take scripture to realise this), and morality should protect us. But morality is subject to constant wear and tear. So it takes a solid understanding of the word of God, and a support system of fellow Christians, to keep our morals at the standard acceptable to Him.
But this in no way means that we should isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. We should consider ourselves distinct from the world, and dead to sin, but we should also remember to be that light; by having a positive impact on those around us.
So for those of you who used to say that highly irritating prayer, I have a new one for you:
Dear God, please grant me your strength, guidance, and wisdom. So that I may withstand the temptations in my life, and positively impact the lives of my temptors. Amen!