Yet because we have received this from our Lord, we also now seek to bring Jesus’ brand of love to others. This means that we do show kindness and concern towards those who are different from us – even those who are engaged in overt sin such as the cohabiting man and woman, or the homosexual couple. We care about their needs and seek to assist them. And we also love them enough to tell them the truth – for that is the most difficult kind of love in today’s world. We speak the truth … not in anger or spite. But we speak in the hope that through repentance and Spirit worked faith the lost will be found. And as Jesus says in today’s Gospel lesson, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
These are the words that concluded my sermon on the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, June 19 for the Gospel lesson, Luke 15:1-10. I wrote them before the Orlando attack, and as I preached them I had just heard that a shooting had happened.
This one paragraph holds together two truths that our world can’t believe exist together among Christians. The first is that they quite clearly identify homosexuality as sin. They leave no doubt that the only God pleasing response is to repent - to confess homosexuality as sin and to seek to turn away from it, even as the individual turns to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of all sins. This is a truth that Christians need to speak to others.
The second is that they clearly express the need to love and help those who live as homosexuals. For those who are in Christ, there can be no other response. After all, Jesus Christ said:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45 ESV)
And the apostle Paul wrote:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:14-15 ESV)
The world does not understand how both of these can be true. It has a different religion and worldview, and cannot understand the foolishness of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). But for those who know the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it makes perfect sense.