The section of scripture Pastor Huebner wanted to share in relation to his below message:
Ezekiel 33: 7-11:
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Isreal; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die from his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But, if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. Son of man, say to the house of Israel, “This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live!” Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
What a life I have lived!
I’m well past three decades in this world now and marching quickly toward four. Those 30+ years have brought a lot of life experiences. Sadly, there are so many that I am so very ashamed of.
Sometimes I truly can’t believe the things I have done.
How could I have been so disrespectful and rude to my parents at times? My son would be grounded until he has great-grandkids if he pulled some of the same garbage I did.
How could I have said and done the things I did when I was in high school and college? The bravado. The brashness. The cutting words. The sharp tongue. The uncaring heart.
How could I think such evil thoughts? I’m a Christian! A lifelong one at that! How could I say such mean and angry things? Where was the patient love of Jesus? Where was the kind heart of our God? How could I do things that are completely, 180 degrees, the opposite of what God commands?
Sometimes just thinking about the sins I have committed in my life makes my heart race. It gives me more butterflies than a high school first date. It makes me greener in the face than the swine flu. Our God is so good, so gracious, so generous. He showers me with blessings. He offers boundless love. Yet I repay his merciful love with all these countless sins?
My chest hurts. Why? Because daily I cower in the corner, groaning with guilt, and beating my chest crying out, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18)
Why else does my chest hurt? Because I am in strict training. Every single day I fight my urges and cravings to follow the passions of my flesh–my cravings to think, speak, and do whatever I want. I fight this. Like it’s a knock-down, drag-em-out, life-or-death grudge match. If only I can beat down my sinful nature and make it my slave to obey the Lord and do what is right! (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Yesterday I posted on this blog about homosexuality and about what God has to say about homosexuality. Some of the responses I received were the same as responses I have received before:
“You have no idea what it is like to be gay!”
And you know what? Those people are right. I don’t. I have absolutely no clue what it is like. I have never had any desire for another male in any way. I have no idea what it is like to be participating in a lifestyle that is at the forefront of American controversy right now. I have no idea what it is like to live a homosexual lifestyle.
But on the other hand, in a sense, I do know what it is like.
I know what it is like to hear what God says in the Bible and hate it. I know what it is like to hear Scripture and think, “No way! I don’t want to do that. In fact, I won’t do that!” I know what it is like to want to change what God says to somehow make what I do OK.
I know what it is like to make excuses for what I have done. I’m good at that. I can find any and every excuse under the sun. And usually, I feel pretty good about myself when I make those excuses. It always feels good to have my choices and actions justified. (At least for a while.)
I know what it is like to fight and wrestle, to be torn and tugged in multiple directions.
I know what it is like to feel like I can’t help myself. Sometimes I see no end in sight. “This is the way I am. I can’t change that. There’s no way I can change that. This is me, and I can’t fight it,” I think. Why should I not do something that feels so good? Why should I not do something that seems so natural? Why should I not think, speak, act as I want? After all, it’s my life! And I’m not really hurting anyone!
No, I don’t specifically know what it is like to be gay. But I do know what it is like to fight sin–even the sins that I don’t want to admit are sins.
And here’s what I also know . . .
I know what it is like to hear God speak repeatedly in Scripture, “Return to the Lord your God!” I know what it is like for a holy and just God to call me to turn from my sinful ways and to turn back to him.
I know what it is like to raise my guilty head, sulking in shame, and see Jesus. I know what it is like to see his outstretched hands nailed to a cross–for me, of all people! I know what it is like to see him writhing in agony, suffering the sting of my sins. I know what it is like for my ears to echo with his bellowing cry, “It is finished.” I know what it is like to see him risen, living, and extending healed hands and feet to me, of all people!
I know what it is like to struggle with sin. I know what it is like to be crushed with guilt. But I also know what it is like to have my burden removed, my conscience soothed, and my slate wiped clean. I know what it is like to have a sure and certain hope for an eternity that does not belong to me.
And finally, I know what it is like to hear my Savior tenderly encourage, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” I know what it is like to wipe the sorrowful tears from my eyes, to stand up, and to march forward with renewed strength. I know what it is like to pick the boxing gloves back up, to put the armor of God back on, and to prepare myself for the fight.
It will still be a struggle. It will still be a battle. No, it will be all out war.
But with a gracious and forgiving Savior who holds the power over sin and Satan, I will fight. I will battle. I will press on toward the goal and throw off everything that hinders.
I do not know what it is like to be gay. I never will. But I do know what it is like to be crushed by the commands of God. And I do know what it is like to fight off temptation and sin with my new life under Christ and with Christ.
My prayer now is that every sinner–not at all only those with homosexual sins, but every sinner–would join me.
Join me daily in falling at the feet of our mighty God in humble repentance to cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
Join me daily in falling at the foot of the cross in humble thanks to cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”
Join me daily in rising to leave a life of sin and live anew for the Lord.