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Anytime a man or woman brings their life into the light, God is at work.

That's the source of the stirring I had with Linda and Rita. So we followed Jesus' example with Linda and Rita and joined whatever the Father was up to.

As of this writing, we're still in the thick of it. It's been an interesting, often awkward, mostly grace-filled, always amazing journey. One of our pastors, Shane, was counseling Linda about some communication struggles she was having with Rita. Linda was trying to explain her frustration. Finally, she looked up at Shane and said, "Well, you're married to a woman. You know what they're like."

As Shane said later, "They never taught me at Bible college how to handle that sort of thing."

Convictions Clarified

Our journey with Linda and Rita clarifies some of the convictions we've developed at our church. I've already shared two of those convictions—the Bible is our only true guide for life and holiness, and Jesus welcomed sinners, just as his Father did, and asks us to welcome them too—but let me walk you through a few of our other convictions. I think this will help if you find that your church is too prone to avoid "sinners and tax collectors"—and you would like your church to join God in the deep work he's doing in the lives of people all around you.

Conviction 1: God is here. There are few professing atheists in the world. But there are a lot of practical atheists—people for whom God's "thereness" registers not at all. I sometimes call them apatheists—joining the word theist and the word apathy. Apatheists believe God exists but don't care.

I'm trying not to be one. So I nurture the conviction that God is right here, right now. The main spiritual discipline for fostering this sense of God's nearness is curiosity. I try to stay more interested, regardless the situation, in what God is doing than in what man is plotting or in what the devil's up to. I don't want to be unaware of the devil's schemes. But I want to obsess over the Father's presence and the Father's work. I want to reserve all my strength for pursuing the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

So my deep conviction is that God is here.

Shortly after Rita and Linda arrived, the pastors and elders gathered to think through biblically and practically our response to our gay friends. I began the conversation with this question: "If gays and lesbians want to come to our church, do you see in that mostly God at work, or mostly the devil?"

To a person, everyone answered, "God."

God is here.

Which leads to our next conviction.

2: When someone comes into the light, it's always God at work. Jesus said that he is the light that has come into the world. Those who come into the light step into a place where they can receive truth and grace (see conviction 4). Those who don't come into the light condemn themselves.

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Mark Buchanan is pastor of New Life Community Baptist Church in Duncan, British Columbia, Canada.

From Issue:Transformation, Summer 2012 | Posted: August 27, 2012

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January 13, 2013  6:03pm

My first thought is that the Lesbians are foolish to attend a church that sees homosexuality as sinful. Until the church progresses further they'll never truly be part of the community; their love relationship never honoured as legitimate. But I get it - Evangelicals (even Baptists), unlike typical mainline churches, know how to worship with enthusiasm. And they're better at powerpoint. So perhaps God has them there because they connect with him there. What's the harm in that? (Paul had lots of hangups, let's not get carried away with Pauline quotes.) And maybe God has the lesbians there to help the process of the church discovering more of God's truth. It wasn't that long ago women couldn't be on church boards; divorced people didn't belong; owning a slave was optional. Heck, women couldn't cut their hair or wear pants. Whatever the case, fear not, fundies: biblical interpretation is constantly evolving, truth is slowly winning.

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yvette moore

December 15, 2012  12:28pm

Does this couple know their church considers them unclean?

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yvette moore

December 15, 2012  12:26pm

I'm just curious: does this couple know you think of them as unclean?

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Oun Kwon

December 14, 2012  6:44pm

As to problems with homosexuality - we are facing a serious and deadly issue in history, not just of Christianity, but of our society and world. We have to be clear what is the issue. Does a pastor, a lay, a church know? Is it homosexuality sin? Homosexuality is as much sin as humanity is. It is homosexualism that is sin. Their behavior, conduct, life style and gay culture, agenda, politics and ideology - these are Satan's, just like any culture, agenda, politics and ideology of other domains. Should we think God punished Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuals? No, it was because no one spoke out against it. Why were they destroyed long ago? It's because everyone was silent - they kept their mouths shout and went along with the flow and did not speak out against unrighteousness. "Don't be silent. The most important thing is for you to not be silent!" Sergei Udaltsov, Russian Dissident http://ow.ly/eGH03 BTW, we are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we all are sinners.

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Oun Kwon

December 14, 2012  6:37pm

As @Stephen mentioned, "Jesus… let [sinners] off the hook, with scarcely a reprimand, for big-ticket sin items like adultery .." is totally unbiblical. @ Frank - mentioned gay marriage issue - Why should we be tolerant of the current social and political wind to change the very meaning of the word 'marriage'? What does have anything a law has to meddle with? It's linguistic and cultural problem of common sense and decency. Is marriage no more than 'mating' (when mating from the back or from the front)? Yeah, they can say anything they want say or do, it's their problem to keep with themselves - preferably in their closets. Let them call it simply "mating". Yeshua welcomed all and everyone, so do we. However, that does not mean we are tolerant of everything and everyone. When a person comes to Yeshua, either that person follows or rejects Him. There is no middle ground. Life is always a choice, either/or, not both. To be a name-sake Christian is far worse.

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