Live Sent: Gospel Contextualization

A friend of mine who is the Women’s Director of Living Hope recently gave a presentation on the Roots of Male and Female Homosexuality to some of my friends from The Village. In this talk, she said something that really started me down a path of much contemplation and self-evaluation: Homosexuality and gender issues is THE issue of our generation.

Since that talk last week, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to confront this issue in a Christ-like manner, without being seen as someone who is an ignorant, intolerant, oppressive fool. A couple days after that, I saw a friend of mine share this on Facebook: Protest Gov. Rick Perry’s Inappropriate and Hateful Prayer Rally.

A prayer rally, hateful? Really? I don’t even know that this prayer rally is supposed to be to pray against anything related to homosexuality, but apparently because Governor Perry is partnering with the AFA on this, some of the homosexual community (sorry if that’s offensive, I don’t know a better term) plan to picket this event because Bryan Fischer, host of AFA show Focal Point said that “Gays are Nazis“. Whether this makes any sense or not is beside the point, it illustrates a problem that is deep within the conservative culture, even in the church.

As I was thinking about this earlier, I couldn’t understand how someone could consider prayer hateful (as if they can discern the intent behind a person’s prayer). Or how someone could see a message about homosexuality being unfulfilling and destructive as hateful. I mean, from a Christian context, it’s similar to a parent telling their child they can’t stick a fork in the electrical outlet. The child may think it’s going to be a great thrill, but the parent knows that it will hurt the child, and stops the child out of love. How is it that such communication is interpreted as hate?

The difference is that there is a closeness between the child and the parent which tells the child that even though the inability to stick a fork in the outlet is disappointing, the parent still loves the child. It seems that overall, the conservative culture and the church have so far removed themselves from the lives of homosexual people that the gospel changes from a message of love and goodwill toward man to be expressed within personal community, and becomes a grenade that we lob at people who are “sinners” until they get their act together. All the while unwilling to be the means which God uses to express His love for them. In other words, we really stop proclaiming the gospel and start telling them to stop doing that which offends or disgusts us. Or maybe we’re just afraid of what we don’t understand? Perfect love drives out fear.

I love the way that Jason Dukes defines contextualization in his book, Live Sent.

Contextualization is, however, living right in the middle of the culture around us, walking daily in friendship with the people of our particular context, loving them just like they are, living right before them in a way that brings out the flavors of God around them and highlights the colors of God around them. It is being a letter they read and say, “Wow. There is a God. He made me and loves me. I want to know Him.” Please reread that and then read Matthew 5:13-16. Very similar.

Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Even well intentioned grenades cause damage. They are uncontrollable. Even when thrown with as much accuracy as possible, a slight shift in the wind can cause disastrous effects for the people nearby when it goes off. That is why the gospel was never intended to be a message delivered from afar. That is why Jesus became our ultimate example of contextualization. He left His home in heaven, became a man, walked among those He was trying to reach, and with careful skill proclaimed the power of the gospel to those He’d lived among for 30 years. Paul does the same thing in Athens (Acts 17:16-34). He doesn’t condemn the men of Athens for their idolatry. He recognizes that they are searching for something, and tells them that the “unknown god” they worship is in fact Jesus. He relates to them on their level to communicate the gospel effectively.

So, how do we contextualize the gospel for the homosexual community? There are obviously MANY people more qualified to answer this question than I am, but I will offer my suggestions, for better or worse.

1) Obviously stop calling them Nazis! Fischer was way out of line with that entire speech, and completely inaccurate.
2) Educate yourself on whether or not homosexuality is genetic, or if it’s caused by the environment they grew up in. There’s less need to be aggressive and defensive when you can talk intelligently about a subject.
3) More importantly than either of those, get to know them. Pray that God would allow you to see them as He sees them, and love them how He loves them.
4) Pray that God would allows us to see yourself as He sees us, as people who to this day are in desperate need of Jesus. The playing field is level, there’s no room or reason for spiritual arrogance.
5) Realize that while the politics of our nation, what it will and won’t allow, are very important; they are far, far LESS important than taking the time necessary to contextually communicate the gospel in the hope that some might come to Christ.

The comments are open for your thoughts, but keep them civil.

EDIT: I am not condoning homosexuality. I am saying that communicating the gospel and the need for Jesus as Lord and Savior comes before any attempt to change a person’s actions, regardless of what those actions are.

18 responses to “Live Sent: Gospel Contextualization

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