Monday, July 17, 2017

I tried - reading Messy Grace [July's Book Review]

A while back I, like more years than I can remember, I started and almost finished reading Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach but for some reason I stopped reading it, in fact I let other people borrow it!

At the end of June I had the honor hearing Caleb speak and I decided that I must finish his book for July; it wasn't a difficult task.

"Can someone be gay and go to heaven?  I think if we're going to ask that question, then we have to ask if someone can be an alcoholic and go to heaven?  Can someone be addicted to drugs and go to heaven? Can someone be a gossip and go to heaven? Can someone be a worrier and go to heaven? Can someone be jealous of others and go to heaven? Can someone be an arrogant know-it-all Christian and go to heaven?"

Spoiler alert - that was the fourth to the last page in his book.  But it gets my point across.

Messy Grace is Caleb's story and journey of growing up with gay parents, learning to hate Christians, then later becoming a Christian and serving pastor.

I love this book.  The first time I started to read it, and the second time.  It's full of thought provoking ideas, truth woven statements, and pieces of little "ah-ha!" nuggets.  The title says it all.  Grace is messy.  The church is messy.  Being a Christian is messy.  So how come we do such a horrible job at loving our gay neighbor, our gay child, our gay parent or co-worker?  Are they not human too?

Although he was more focused on loving the gay community, I couldn't help but also apply everything he wrote to other communities that Christians sometimes struggle with loving.   The quote above could also include, in my opinion, can someone be a liberal and go to heaven? Can someone be republican and go to heaven? Can someone have tattoos and go to heaven? Can someone born in a Muslim family go to heaven? Can someone who is black go to heaven? Can someone who is a cop go to heaven? Can someone who is a soldier go to heaven? Can someone who works for an abortion clinic go to heaven?

Can someone who disagrees with me go to heaven?

The very same page he writes, "Most Christians I know wouldn't have an issue with saying that any one of those people could go to heaven (talking about gossip, etc), but for some reason, when it comes to homosexuality, some think that is too tall of an order for God.  I think it's because their view of God is too small.  He's calling everyone into this kingdom all the time, as hard as that may be for us to believe."

This summer I also participated, well... attempted to participate in, a Beth Moore study called "Entrusted."   On page 106 of her workbook she writes, "Have you ever wondered how we Christians get away with some of the things we do? We rename the sin something noble.  We call gossip informing, judgement discernment, misogyny authority, anger righteous indignation, lust appreciation, arrogance confidence, profanity passion, and hate debate, and voila, misconduct gets reframed as Christian duty."

By renaming our sin, we simultaneously are trying to let others know that their sin is worse than ours.  But, sin is sin. And love is love.  

(My favorite is Romans 9:12-21)

I urge everyone to read this book, and truly seek their own hearts, get to know someone from the gay community, truly know them, don't fear them... they are people too!  My biggest fear or worry (and I know I shouldn't have any, for God is bigger than even my own small fears) is that the people who truly NEED to read this book, won't give it a second glance.  That more often than not, the ones reading Messy Grace are already trying to love their gay Christian and non-Christian friends.  But this is just me making an assumption, which is not healthy either.

So, I challenge you, regardless of where you stand on your beliefs of homosexuality in the church, to read this book.  Not just read it, but come to it with an open mind and ask God for it to touch your heart.  That your heart can reflect God's heart, one full of love and grace (even if it is messy).
To my LBTQ co-worker, friends, family, I am sorry if you have been hurt by the church.  The church is not a place of perfection, but a place of brokenness.  Our identities should be mirrors reflecting Christ, not our own thoughts and ambitions.  If you (homosexual or heterosexual) have been hurt by the church and need to talk, I will listen.  You are loved.

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