taking the words of Jesus seriously


On June 8, 2015, Red Letter Christian founder, Tony Campolo, released a statement on his personal website challenging the church to be more welcoming by embracing gay and lesbian Christians as members whose commitment to one another should be blessed. Having maintained a traditional position on gay marriage for decades, Tony knows well all of the arguments against Christians blessing gay unions.


But as Christian Piatt made clear in his post last week, it was the people Tony knows and loves who changed his mind.


Of course, some Christians–even some Red Letter Christians–do not agree with Tony. Tony knows this too, and he was careful not to make his statement here on RLC’s blog for that very reason. He doesn’t want to make definitive statements on behalf of the church or a movement within in the church.


But in the best way he knows how, Tony is trying to do something that the gospel must always do–something that the church has always done in every time and place where it has been the Holy Spirit filled body of our Lord Jesus Christ.


And the recovery of this basic Christian practice is much more important than being right on the “gay issue”–or any other issue, for that matter.


In short, we must learn to bless the good.


This is, after all, what Jesus was about in the first century Roman world. As broken and twisted as society was in the first century near east, Jesus did not come preaching jeremiads against imperial injustice or Roman indulgence. He didn’t pick a group of sinners to ostracize. In fact, Jesus reserved his harsh words for the religious leaders who used religion to condemn those whom God blessed.


More than anything else, Jesus blessed the good. He blessed the overlooked and forgotten good, the quiet and despised good. Jesus saw good where others didn’t see it. And he blessed it.


As hard as it may be to remember, this has always been the most powerful witness of the church. Not to stand against evil or to decry our enemies, but to humbly confess our complicity in this world’s mess and to use what power we have to bless the good.


Some people say the church is going to hell because we have welcomed gay folks.


Others lament that some in the church have taken so long to get right on the gay issue.


But maybe the greatest danger of all is that we who follow Jesus have been so concerned about whether we’ve got our position right on this that we fail to remember that there is good news.


And that we share that good news not by shouting that we’re right, but by blessing what is good.


The great thing is, there’s thousands of stories to tell about what God is doing to break down dividing walls and heal old wounds to show us the way to beloved community. I got to tell one of them in worship last Sunday. It’s a joy to bless this good news that’s happening in this world.


What do you see that you want to bless in God’s good world?


About The Author


Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a celebrated spiritual writer and speaker. Together with his wife, Leah, he co-founded the Rutba House in Durham, NC, where he also directs the School for Conversion (www.schoolforconversion.org). Jonathan works closely with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II to spearhead The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Jonathan's newest book is "Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion" (InterVarsity Press).

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