A Day of Repentance

Responding to the recent Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage
A Day of Repentance
Putting the focus squarely where it should be…on the Church

Speaker: Roger Valci
Key Verse: Joel 2:15    Blow the ram’s horn trumpet in Zion!  Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day.  Call a public meeting. 

I am struggling with how to lead right now.  The calendar says that Sunday is coming and with it another installment of my Cities series in Acts.  And yet, my heart still feels the heaviness of the recent Supreme Court decision over gay marriage.  Our nation has set a course to redefine marriage, and with that, embarking on a course no people have traversed before.  Marriage was created by God, not by the state.  Yet, His voice on the issue seems to matter little to the majority of Americans.

After service last week, Dr. Charlie Self told me at lunch,

“It’s not that Christians in America are persecuted for our beliefs; while that day may come, it is not here today.  The truth of the matter is that our voice is irrelevant to this culture.  They simply don’t care what we have to say.”

How did we get here?  How did we get to the place where God’s voice through His Church matters so little?  We are the custodians of “the words of life” and yet we have little audience to life’s most important offer in Jesus Christ.

As I was pondering these questions, I wrote down 5 sins the modern Church has committed that have brought us here.  Now this list is by no means comprehensive, but I believe it is where we should begin.  This Sunday, I feel compelled by God’s Spirit to lead us in a time of repentance.

Paul tells us to “stop judging people outside the church” (1 Corinthians 5:12).
Peter tells us that “judgement begins in the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
Jeremiah says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:40).
Joel encourages the leadership to “declare a day of repentance, a holy fast, call a public meeting” (Joel 2:15).

I feel the pressure to get things back to normal, but truth be told, things are not normal, at least from Heaven’s perspective. God is looking for a cry from the earth and He is looking for His Church to bring it.  This Sunday, we will give Him that cry.  We will repent.

We gather here today to rend your heart, bare your soul, and confess our sins.  This, too, is church and is perhaps some of the most important church we can give to God and to the world He longs to reach.

A few thoughts before we begin:
1.    Guest:  Sit back and walk how Christians own up to their faults.
2.    Focus this morning is on the sins of the church not the world.
3.    Format:  Teach – Selah – Teach – Selah .
4.    Temptation to do status quo and not acknowledge things have changed.
5.    Not naïve at the collision course with our culture.  Have people in this church pressuring me to prepare for Armageddon.
6.    Others are telling me to stop talking about this.  I came to church to get away from this.
7.    Some are saying telling me that no one in the homosexual community can be trusted.
8.    Still others are asking for Valley Christian to accommodate the homosexual community.
9.    Anybody want my job?

A Day to Repent:

1.    The five sins I will bring before you have always been there.
2.    Sad that it takes a Supreme Court decision to get us to face issues that we have avoided.
3.    Must warn you that repentance is not the goal – befriending people who are different than us is.
4.    The primary point is to ask God to give us more of the heart of Jesus toward people He cares for.
5.    This list is not comprehensive or definitive.  They overlap into each other.
6.    There is a lot more sins the church needs to repent for than these.  Comes from prayer and things I have been reading that make sense to my spirit.
7.    We are here to work today.

Blow the ram’s horn trumpet in Zion!   
Declare a day of repentance,
a holy fast day.  
Call a public meeting.

Get everyone there.
Consecrate the congregation.  
Make sure the elders come,  
but bring in the children, too, even the nursing babies,
 Even men and women on their honeymoon—  
interrupt them and get them there.

Between Sanctuary entrance and altar,  
 let the priests, GOD’S servants, weep tears of repentance.  
Let them intercede: “Have mercy, GOD, on your people!   
Don’t abandon your heritage to contempt.  
Don’t let the pagans take over and rule them   and sneer [saying],
‘And so where is this God of theirs?’”   Joel 2:15

Sin #1:   JUDGMENTALISM – “believing we are ok and you are not”

Let me be quick to say that Valley Christian teaches that attitudes of judgment and condemnation, words that are demeaning and demonizing expressed by anyone in the Church on the topic of same-sex relationships do great harm to those who may be open to hearing God’s truth.

Valley Christian in no way endorses or condones such hateful attitudes or actions toward those who believe differently than we do on this topic, and we repent of any contribution churches have made to create an atmosphere of alienation and hostility toward people God loves and Christ died for. We are saddened by the barriers such mindsets have created and long to enter a new day where mutual respect and kindness, create the foundation for meaningful and lasting relationships with the LGBTQ community.

This idea that we are ok and you are not is a fabrication, a myth, a fantasy.
The truth is NONE of us in the church are ok.
The disease of sin still affects all aspects of our being.
Our thoughts, our desires, our will and our ambitions are still tainted with selfish and evil inclinations.
And honestly, in many respects, we are most alike the LGBTQ community in our sin that we may first admit.
Like you, we struggle with issues of:  fidelity, anger, lust, fear, insecurity and greed.
And many of us have a long way to go to see some victory in these areas.
We are sinners in need of the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
So we enter this relationship from this clear understanding that we share with you human fallenness and frailty.

My friends, judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy.
People don’t line up to be judged.
Instead they flee.
If we want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.
Judging outsiders is un-Christian. Paul told us “to stop judging people outside the church” (1 Cor. 5:12).
Jesus said “God will judge us with the same standard with which we judge others” (Matt. 7:1-2).

People don’t line up to be judged.
But they might line up to be loved.
So love people.
Especially the people with whom you disagree.

We need the heart of Jesus…

Sin #2:   HYPOCRISY – “asking people to live a standard we won’t live”

Why would we hold the world to the same standard we hold the church?
If you believe sex is a gift given by God to be experienced between a man and a woman within marriage, why would you expect people who don’t follow Christ to embrace that?
Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:
Wait until marriage to have sex?
Clean up their language?
Stop smoking weed?
Be faithful to one person for life?
Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?
Seriously? Why?
What’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus
For behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?
Most people today are not pretending to be Christians.
So why would they adopt Christian values or morals?
Why would we expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?

Truth be told, non-Christians usually act more consistently with their value system than you do.
It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite because they tend to live out what they believe.
Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are.
Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans.
But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.
Think about that.

My friends, if you believe gay sex is sinful,
it’s really no morally different than straight sex outside of marriage.
If we are really honest, if we really want to fact the facts,
most unmarried people in our church and schools are having sex (yes, even the Christians).
I know you want to believe that’s not true (trust me, I don’t want to believe that’s true),
but I challenge you to ask around.
You’ll discover that only a few really protect their sexuality purity.
Not to mention the married folks that struggle with porn, lust, fantasies and a long list of other dysfunctions.
If you believe gay marriage is not God’s design, you’re really dealing with the same issue you’ve been dealing with all along—
sex outside of its God-given context.
You don’t need to treat it any differently.

By the way, if you don’t deal with straight sex outside of marriage, we have no right speaking out against gay sex.
At least be consistent…humbly address all forms of sex outside of marriage.
And since we are at it, we might as well deal with gluttony and gossip and greed in the House of God.
Jesus brings healing to all these areas of life, including our sex lives.

“We need the heart of Jesus”

Sin #3:   EXCLUSIVITY – “creating a closed community”

As I sit down and hear stories of LGBTQ families at Valley Christian one common trait emerges –
they are afraid of what the church will do them if they hear their story.
Many keep this portion of their lives private because they are concerned how we will respond, how will we react,
whether we will accept or reject them and their children and grandchildren.
That if we hear their struggle as a mom or dad with an LGBTQ son or daughter, will we shun the person they love?

I was with a family in this church this week who shared with my wife and I this portion of their life, and their struggle with their children,
but said frankly they would never share it with anyone else in the church.
Why?
The fear was not for themselves,
They are not asking anyone hear to compromise their beliefs in the Scriptures.
They certainly are not.
What they do fear is how we will treat their son or daughter if we knew that this was part of their story.

This story shows me we have created a closed community in Christ’s church.
That people come into this room and feel it necessary to leave a portion of their lives in their cars.
Because they believe we can’t handle it or we can’t help them.
And they come in here and project a smile that everything is ok…when it is not.

Valley Christian, I am here today to declare…everybody is welcome!!!
And we mean everybody:
Believers, unbelievers,
Skeptics, cynics,
Straight, gay,
Single, married,
Widowed and celibate,
Rich, poor,
Down-and-out, up-and-out,
Ex-cons, current cons,
Addicted, sober,
Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and unaffiliated—
Niner fan and Raider nation.
Giants, A’s
And yes, we even all Windows and Android users in the House

Everybody’s welcome at Valley Christian Center!!!

We believe that is how people felt around Jesus…
Welcome.
People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus.
He had a way of letting everyone who would listen to Him know
that God is for them, with them, and the Kingdom of God is open to them.

“We need the heart of Jesus”

Sin #4:   INSENSITIVITY with the struggle of those in the LGBTQ community and their families

Imagine having an area in your life you are not sure what to do with.
It goes deep inside you and brings conflict to you soul.
You quietly struggle wandering what to do.
Because the church sees these desires as taboo, you don’t go there.
You’re scared to bring it to your family fearing the weight and disappointment it may bring.
You go online finding many voices pulling at you.
Some for restraint.
Others for release.
But you do find there is someone who will talk to you about it.
At least there I am not alone.

You search the Scriptures for answers.
You see God’s love, power and grace.
And wonder how all that fits in for you.
You watch Christian leaders debate all sides and feel you are in the middle of a crossfire.

You need help processing all this.
But don’t know where to go.
You see people getting prayer each week in church and wander if you should go forward.
You wander what the pastors will do if you tell them.
You don’t want to burden your House Church so you keep it all inside.

At times, you simply want it all to go away.
You wish this wasn’t part of you.
You even ask God to take it away.
In your lowest moments, you entertain the thought that death may be a better option.
You are stuck.  You are alone.  You are depressed.

Your greatest fear is being the curse of living alone.
You know the Bible talks about celibacy,
But you know, you are NOT celibate.
You long to be with someone.
To share life together.
To raise a family.
But you believe because of this struggle, that may never happen.

Or imagine you are leader in the church
And your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, come tell you they are gay.
Your find the composure to convey that you love them, but inside you are torn.

So many thoughts are surfacing.
What did I do to create this?
What does this mean for my vision to see my son or daughter walk down that aisle?
Will I ever get grandchildren?

Then you think about your church family.
You contemplate telling a few folks, but the embarrassment and the shame tell you not to.
You figure this is one area that they can’t handle.
So you keep it inside.
You come to church smiling.
You continue to lead your House Church and serve in our City.
But down deep inside there is a deep sorrow.
One you don’t know what to do with.
One you feel you must carry alone.

“We need the heart of Jesus”

Sin #5:   DENIAL – refusing to face these realities and challenges of sexual purity in our homes and our churches

A few months ago, I had a parent in our schools come to me.
This parent was burdened and distraught.
Their child who went through our schools just recently told her they were gay.
They then told me these words, “I know I didn’t do my part to prepare for this, but neither did you.”

To be honest, I don’t want to talk about this.
It is uncomfortable to me for reasons I can’t fully explain.
It is not how I grew up.
It is not my strong point.
It is not an area I particularly know how to handle.
It makes people feel uncomfortable.
I feel the pressure to just move one with “other weightier matters”

Truth be told, sexual purity is a topic the church has punted for too long.
Our silence is interpreted by our children as blanket sanction.
They know what the world believes.
I don’t think they know what we believe or what the Bible says.
Why?  We haven’t taught enough on it.
We haven’t showed them how to navigate this.
Instead we have ignored the issue or belittled those who struggle with any sexual desire, let alone homosexual desires.

Perhaps we haven’t faced it because we too have compromised our sexual integrity.
Perhaps our internet addiction to pornography has crippled us from saying anything.
Perhaps our fantasies and flirtations to the grey zone has kept us dull to the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps our affairs have kept us away from speaking up.

I wish this were not true.
I want to believe we are the exception.
I think we are beyond that.
But perhaps not.
Perhaps we are here, because we have denied the reality that God has a standard for sexuality,
and many of us here don’t want to adhere to it.
We put out His standard to free us to our pursuits.
God help us.

“We need the heart of Jesus”

Closing Comments:
1.    I think there’s more hope than there is despair for the future.
2.    The radical ethic of grace and truth found in Jesus is more desperately needed in our world today than ever before.
3.    Is the path crystal clear? No.
4.    But rather than being a set back, perhaps this can move the church yet another step closer to realizing its true mission.
5.    Showing grace.
6.    Respect those with whom you disagree.

Corporate Prayer
Father, we confess and renounce today,
Our judgmental spirit.
That has misrepresented the compassion and love of Heaven
You desire to give to ALL people.
Especially those in the LGBTQ community.
You did not treat us this way
When we came to you as sinners.
We now vow to treat those in the LGBTQ community
With respect, kindness and compassion.
Believing the common bonds
Of human sin and heaven’s grace,
Are enough to begin meaningful relationships.

We confess and renounce,
Our Hypocritical ways,
Where we ask the LGBTQ community
To live a standard we have not lives ourselves.
The reality is that we too are caught in a web of sexual impurity,
With pornography, fantasies, flirtations and affairs
That compromise Your standard and ways
We ask forgiveness
For all the ways we compromise your call to purity.

We confess and renounce,
Our Exclusivity,
Where we have not created space,
For individuals and families  
Of the LGBTQ community,
To find grace and support
As they struggle with their sexual identity.

We confess and renounce,
Our Insensitivity to care for their struggle.
Their plight.
Their battle.
Their desire to obey Your word.
We ask for Your heart of compassion,
To aid them in this struggle.

We confess and renounce,
Our denial of these issues.
We have avoided these conversations,
These issues,
This struggle for too long.
Confusing our children in the process.
We choose today,
To live a pure life.
To care for those who care for.
To cast out these horrible sins,
Of Judgmentalism, Hypocrisy, Exclusiveness, Insensitivty, and Denial.
We don’t’ want them in our life anymore.

2015-07-15T20:08:21+00:00