This I Believe

For the second Sunday in a row, I felt compelled to make a statement as a pastor to my congregation about what was happening nationally (you can listen here).

Here’s my position:

A friend posted a meme that summed it up: “My Facebook feed looks like a battle broke out between Confederates and a Skittles factory.”

These last ten days have have made me want to give up social media.

Racism. Terrorism. Gun Control. Health Care. Gay Marriage.

So many cultural and historical events back to back, immediately moving to political and theological arguments online, reminded me how quickly the tumor of you’re either with me or against me metastasizes. (free tip: stay away from comments).

I was also reminded how many friends and family I have with completely opposite beliefs. Not only about gay marriage, but all the issues listed above (let’s throw in abortion and immigration to complete the circle).

I have family and friends with very different political or theological positions, but who also have real life experiences with these issues.

These are people who dearly love Jesus, and whom Jesus dearly loves (and people who don’t know Jesus, but whom He also dearly loves).

Christianity has always had its disagreements: From our beginning in the book of Acts over who gets the Gospel, to today’s ongoing debate over who gets saved.

So I’m not surprise the Body of Christ disagrees over marriage, or war, or foreigners… and that each side uses Scripture to back up their claims.

But I’ve found the goal in all of this is to have the posture of Holy Love in Christ.

This means the winning side doesn’t spike the ball and dance in the end-zone. The losing side doesn’t run around screaming about the sky falling.

But, as a pastor, I’m also asked where I stand on these issues, or what I think is “happening to our country.”

Pastor, what do you believe?

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son and our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead, but on the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and right now sits at the right hand of God the Father, from where he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit.

I believe in the Holy and universal Church… the Body of Christ… and the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

I believe Jesus is Lord, which means I am not.

I believe every person exists because of Jesus, even if they’re not aware of it.

I believe sin exists, it’s effects are catastrophic, but grace abounds, and so God is pursing all people.

I do not believe in a Jesus who bludgeons people with fear and anger for not living up to Daddy’s expectations.

I do not believe in a Jesus who considers unconditional love to be unconditional approval.

I believe we can be exemplars of grace through the Holy Love of Jesus (by the power of the Holy Sprit) who could love and embrace anyone, while at the same time telling them, “Go and sin no more.”

And I believe that is the heart of the Gospel… as the late Rich Mullins sang: The whores all seemed to love Him, and the drunks proposed a toast, saying, “Truly God is with us.”

And so I pray:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton

jesus the teacher

  • Jesse

    Omar,
    This post is beautiful. I love your prayers. You seem to eloquently (if not maddeningly) get around having to answer the question, “Where do you stand [on these political/social issue]?”
    I have to say, though, speaking particularly to the issue of marriage equality, I did dance in the end zone, and I did spike the ball. Activists have fought a long battle to reach Friday’s decision. The battle will likely not end just because of this decision. But people have died for this cause. People have died so that others might be recognized as both citizens of this country, or even simply as *humans* on this Earth. That is something worth celebrating. I will still hold the collective trophy high in the air, even if others see no reason for it. We made it.