Friday, November 8, 2013

What closet do you need to come out of?

I love this video and wish I could have all my Jesus loving friends watch it.  Yes, this lady's closet is being a lesbian, which a lot of us can't relate to, but if we are to share Jesus with people in a meaningful way and address heart issues that are keeping us from joy and freedom in Christ, we can certainly learn a few lessons from this woman.

(For those of you squeamish about lesbians, if you still even read my blog...which you probably don't, push through to the end of the video anyway, I promise it's worth it.)

First, let's address the easier lesson we can take from this.  If we are to bring people into a grace-filled, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we have to be authentic.  When you are sharing the gospel with non-believers, you won't connect deeply with people over the things that are going well in your life.  That creates a very superficial relationship and the gospel cannot take root in a person's life if it is just superficially sown (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21).

What allows us to connect deeply with another person is letting the other person see our brokenness and vulnerability.  And unfortunately, in our fallen world, our authentic selves are the broken and vulnerable parts.  If that wasn't the case, we wouldn't need a Savior.  And isn't that the message of the gospel summed up right a fallen world, we are broken and vulnerable to the point where we unable to save ourselves, but there is a Father in Heaven that loves us so much He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for us as the perfect sacrifice and to conquer death and rise again on the third day, so that we can be called Children of the Living God and live with Him for all eternity?

In Matthew 9:12, Jesus tells us very clearly that the sick need a Doctor, not the healthy.  If we don't "come out" and reveal our sickness and show how Christ is healing it, then how would any non-believer know that the remedy for their pain can be found in Christ alone?  Take a lesson from this woman about "coming out", and your work for the Kingdom of God can't help but become deeper and more authentic.

Second, I want to address her idea about militantly hiding behind a closet door.  I've had very similar experiences and believe that most Christians, if they are honest, have experienced this in their own way as well.

I was militantly hiding behind a closet door for a long time when it came to my calling to be a preacher and writer and bible teacher.  I know that the idea of women preaching and leading is a hot, touchpoint issue for many Christians, including Christians I love and respect.  There were so many hurtful, degrading, and hateful things said both in the Christian community as a whole and by some Christians around me regarding women in ministry that I very much felt forced into hiding when my call started becoming obvious to me.  I did my share of praying, scripture reading and begging for discernment.  I felt like scripture was okay with women preaching and teaching, but I could see where there was some ambiguity.  I felt like the Holy Spirit was being relentless in His call for me to go this direction.  But the hate that was hearing from Godly people about even the mention of a woman in any sort of teaching role first simply stressed me out to the point of making myself sick, and then later began to anger me.

For a time, I became militant.  I was ready for battle.  While I couldn't, and still can't, see a definite and intellectually honest "no women preachers" in scripture, I abandoned my humility at seeing any ambiguity in the passage and began to mount my militant biblical and theological blitzkrieg to deploy on anyone who dared question me on the topic.  And I'm not going to lie...I'm an intelligent woman, an educated woman and have been trained in logic and debate since elementary school.  My theological blitzkrieg on the topic of women preachers and women in leadership could blow anyone out of the water.  I sat hunched behind my wall with grenade in hand, knowing that if anyone dared say anything, I could make them look like a fool in minutes.

But the Holy Spirit spoke to me one day, and hearing the speaker's story above about the little girl ordering a pancake rang with the same 100% authentic truth that I, myself, experienced.  The Holy Spirit simply asked me, "Are you a preacher, writer and teacher because the theological blitzkrieg you've assembled has convinced you to, or are you a preacher, writer and teacher because Jesus called your name and you are doing what He has called you to do?"

It was an instant heart change in a way that only Almighty God can accomplish.  I went from insecure and defensive, to child-like and free.  I do what I do because Christ has called me to do it and with all my heart and all my soul, I want to follow Him.  As an act of Christian discipline, I refuse to debate anyone on the topic of women in ministry.  I've come out.  I could choose between militantly blitzkrieging my way through ministry on my own, or I could simply let Jesus open the door, take my hand and lead me out of the closet and present me as His.  When the speaker above talks about the stress associated with not coming out of the closet, I totally relate, but can tell you now that I have stepped out, that stress is gone.  When someone questions me on the topic, my only answer to them is, "I have no idea whether women should be preachers or in leadership or in ministry.  But I believe with all my heart that I have been called, so I'm going to follow Him."  And if after that anyone still wants to argue, I tell them to take it up with the One who called me.  If He wants me to stop, He'll tell me.

I tell that story because I believe we all have our "closet" issue.  You may be the only Democrat in your group of Republican friends.  You may be the only believer in a group of atheists who eat lunch at the table with you at work or school.  You may be the only one in your neighborhood who can't afford the nice car and lawn care, but are up to your eyeballs in debt trying to keep up the facade.  Come out of your closet.  If it is a Christian you need to "come out" to and they cannot extend you the grace to be different, then they are the one not following Christ, not you.  Stop building your militant defense and just be...isn't that what freedom in Christ really is...the freedom to be who He made you to be?  Think back to how grace filled the speaker's reply was to the little girl verses the reply she thought she needed to give.  Which one sounds more like Jesus?  The only time Jesus was militant was toward the Pharisees, who were militantly in their own closets and trying to push everyone else in one as well.  Fill yourself with grace, knowing that just as you need to come out of whatever it is, everyone else has a closet they are hiding in as well.

Come out and be free.

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