Tim Wildmon | Stephen Phinney
Dear IOM Reader,
The Grace of God extends an invite to ALL sinners. While most believe this as a theological fact, many loved ones with family & friends that practice a lifestyle of LGBTQ find it almost impossible to sit in the same room with them, let alone invite them for the holidays.
This challenge is real in the lives of authentic Christian fathers,' mothers,' siblings,' and friends.' Those who are immovable in their indwelling Life in Christ need to step up & face this challenge. Each need to allow Jesus from within to extend the invitation of Grace.
Real Grace is NOT dismissing or encouraging another's sin, which would be worldly grace. The Grace of Christ reveals our Lord's method of handling those snagged by sin. Keep in mind that those who practice sin as a lifestyle - it is not who they are. Rather, it is what they do. This is the place where Grace begins.
Authentic grace is the outpouring of Jesus's love. For He desires that all may find salvation, and Grace puts it in front of them. Jesus never condemned the sinners in front of Him, and He only condemned their sin. Although, He did make their sins known to them. In this, when sinners were watching Him deliver the answer, Life in Him, His presentation was filled with the Person of Grace - Himself. People have always been drawn to Him due to the love of His Father pouring out through Him.
Since people tend to believe their sins are who they are, listeners of the Gospel find the message of Christ offensive. Here lays our problem.
We tend to avoid them when we are fronted with highly offended sinners (family or friends). While this is easy to understand, there is a better choice. We need to extend the Grace of our Lord through our behavior - not in lecturing. In situations like the holidays, this is not the time to preach. Rather it is the time to show them in the gentleness of wisdom, through loving them unconditionally, the manifestations of Christ living within you. With that, we 'love on them.'
After reading Tim Wildmon's entry, I will offer a few practical suggestions on revealing the Grace of God to your LGBTQ loved one within the context of the holidays.
"Our daughter wants to bring her lesbian partner to Thanksgiving this year. What should we do?" - Distraught Dad
"We just found out our transgender son is coming home for Christmas and we aren't sure what we should tell our younger children." - Concerned Mom
"How can we have meaningful conversations with our unsaved granddaughter without pushing her away? She accuses us of being toxic and doesn’t want us to have any contact with her at all. Should we even buy her a Christmas present?" - Broken-hearted Grandfather
These are just a few of the desperate situations many families are facing this year. If you long to see God break through in the life of an LGBTQ loved one, you are not alone. We know the holidays present many stressful situations you may not have imagined; but they also may provide you with an opportunity to pour into the life of someone who needs Jesus.
Home for the Holidays: How to reach your LGBTQ loved ones this season is a half hour panel discussion designed to help families navigate these difficult situations with both grace and truth. Join AFA's own Kendra White with special guests Stephen Black, Laura Perry, and Denise Shick as they share biblically based answers to common questions families are facing. Click below to watch for free.
So what is a loved one to do?
Embrace this challenge in prayer before moving forward.
Invite your LGBTQ identified loved one for the holidays.
Greet them with unconditional love.
If they fear you bringing up Christianity, assure them you will not.
If they want to bring their partner - invite them. However, make the stipulation that if any talk turns to their lifestyle, you will redirect it immediately. The agreement goes both ways. By the Grace of God, the family member, partner or friend wants to engage you with Christianity vs. LGBTQ, take the conversation "outside." While they might focus on LGBTQ, you focus on your testimony of the Grace of the Lord. This could be an opportunity to lead them to Christ.
Do not preach or manipulate the conversation to address their lifestyle during the celebration. Reveal the Grace of God through your behavior.
Unless they request to talk to you about the differing lifestyles, do not bring up the topic. If or when THEY do, take the conversation to a private place. In that conversation, focus on answering their questions without a preaching attitude.
Make their holiday experience pleasant by reflecting the love and Grace of Jesus Christ.
Some hold to the position of "not associating with a sinner." First of all, this passage is for those who 'hang out’ with sinners - covertly confessing the lifestyle of the other is acceptable. Secondly, we can't lead others to Christ if we are not associating with them in some fashion. Legalism never saves a soul. Although, the Grace of God in an association could.
Have a wonder celebration of Thanksgiving! -Dr. Phinney