**I do not own the rights to this picture.
Hello everyone! I find myself, once again, penning a blog that I had no plans to write. I love how God changes our plans. Today's blog is honestly one of repentance. We don't really “see” until we “see” with the revelation of His heart. When you ask Him to remove in you what is not of Him (which I have done), He will dig up every ounce of pride and self-righteousness in your heart. He will break the chains of arrogance that bind you. He will bring unpleasant revelation. He will set you free. God can use any means necessary to bring this much needed revelation – thus enter Instagram, Jackie Hill Perry, Preston Perry, and Preston Sprinkle.
Obviously, we all know what Instagram is, but you may not know the Perrys or Mr. Sprinkle. Jackie Hill Perry is a prominent evangelical speaker, teacher, and writer who does not shy away from controversial hot topics and how they relate to the Church and our daily lives. Preston Perry, is an evangelical speaker, poet, and influencer. He and Jackie have a wonderful Podcast called 30 Minutes with the Perry's on Youtube and Patreon. Jackie came to know the Lord as a lesbian and has since walked away from that lifestyle altogether. You may or may not be familiar with her autobiographical book, Gay Girl, Good God, which I highly recommend. Preston Sprinkle is an evangelical theologian and writer who focuses on teaching the Church how to minister, love, and relate to people in the LGBTQIA community. He is the president of the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender in Boise, ID. He recently released the book, Embodied, which is already in my reading cue. You can find them all on Instagram.
The Perry's hosted Mr. Sprinkle on a podcast recently where they discussed understanding the trans community, personal pronouns, and how the Church can lovingly address these cultural realities. He told the Perry's and the audience that when pronouns come into play, he chooses to be charitable and respectful to people despite not agreeing with the idea. Relationship, he said, was more important than arguing or putting people on the defensive. I will have to say I was instantly convicted. He was talking to me. He was reading my mail. What he described was the exact opposite of how I had treated a young friend in recent months. I had let “hard truth” override respect and love – the very things I have been telling him and other people not to do! Too much truth, without love and grace is just loud noise. You may be telling the truth, you may get noticed, you may get your point across (one up someone), you may be technically “right”, and employ the “gotcha” moment – just as the pharisees did in Jesus' day – but do you know what you are not? You are not the love of Christ in that moment. You are not seeing that person or group through the eyes of Jesus Christ. You are the noisy, clanging gong Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 13:1. If you make this a habit, you are a modern-day pharisee – a white washed tomb, beautiful on the outside and full of death on the inside (Matthew 23:27-28). You have elevated your moral position and your self-righteousness above love, relationship with real people, and above God Himself. You have become your own idol, just as the pharisees ultimately worshiped their law and themselves, not God.
I was that pharisee in a moment of “hard truth” and self-righteousness a few months back in relation to a Trans friend who I had been mentoring and talking with about the Gospel. I was that loud, noisy gong. I was “right” and my motive supposedly “righteous.” I had told my friend “the truth” by golly about their gender pronouns. I got my point across and had the “last word.” So what exactly did I accomplish? Nothing. I didn't change their heart, I broke their heart and they stopped speaking to me effectively ending the friendship. I was an ass – I was wrong. I sacrificed him (the person) and the friendship so I could be “right” and feel spiritually and morally superior. I have never gotten it more wrong! I don't agree with everything the LGBTQIA community stands for, however, that does not excuse me from seeing people as the valuable Image Bearers that they are to God. Any disagreement doesn't give me or any of us the right to sacrifice people on the fake alters of supposed moral and spiritual superiority! Jesus said, “Who among you has not sinned? Cast the first stone!” (John 8:7)
I have done what I can to make this right. I texted this person because I figured they wouldn't pick up if I called, would you in their shoes? My text went through and did not show I was blocked or that it didn't go through. I admitted my wrongdoing and asked for forgiveness. I haven't heard back. I don't know if I will and that breaks my heart. I am still blocked on his social media. I don't blame him. I'm the one who was less than gracious. I put being “right” over the friendship. This is the part that hurts my heart most of all. He needed a friend to walk with him, not a person to tell him what to say or how to feel. He didn't need my rules or my feelings – he needed me to walk along beside him and love him. If he sees this or someone shares it with him, I hope we can reconnect. I failed at being a friend and I don't blame him for his anger.
The reality of all of this is we have to let grace, love, and truth work together in relationship. We have to walk with people in what has been termed radical love. Jesus, afterall, loved radically. Cold, hard truth to people we don't know, barely know or even know well won't work – it just turns them away and it doesn't showcase the character and heart of Jesus who was tender towards people (except the wicked, greedy money changers). He was tender and he spoke truth in a loving way. I call all of us to radical love! Don't do what I did! Don't let truth override everything else because truth without love and grace is not only noisy, it's just law. Law never saved or changed anyone. Law just kills people in the end – figuratively and literally. A word of caution - don't let our political parties tell you how to treat the LGBTQIA community either. They both have agendas (which are increasingly apparent) and those agendas don't always line up with what Jesus is doing in the earth. Many times they take advantage of this community to further their ends and that is about as far from the heart of Jesus Christ as you can get.
Church, I hope my words have encouraged us all to do better and to get to know the real people in our communities. Let us choose love, grace and truth everytime. Let us walk with our LGBTQIA friends and let Jesus do the rest. We don't need to fix anyone – we can't fix people anyway. Let Jesus be Jesus in and through you everyday to everyone around you – in doing this we may not conquer the world (as some would suppose), but we will change it for the better of all people.
Links of interest related to today's topic:
30 Minutes with the Perry's: Pronoun hospitality, Understanding the trans community, and other hard stuff. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZknflyjzEc
The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: www.centerforfaith.com/about
Instagram handles: @jackiehillperry