The Body of Christ
Adapted from our 2020 Commissioning Dinner Vision speech.
What does it look like to include sexual minorities?
Do they belong to God’s Kingdom, in what way do they belong?
I want to note five things from 1 Corithians 12 and how they relate to sexual minorities.
1. The church is united, they stand together:
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ [‘s body] for we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…
If we are believers of Jesus, we stand together, side by side. Every believer is part of Jesus’ body, part of the local and global church. That means we stand together with brothers and sisters who are attracted to the same sex, who are working out gender identity and walking the obedient path of following Jesus. We stand side by side.
2. God’s people are united, but there is diversity, or difference
14 Indeed, the body is not one part but many.
Not everyone is the same. Imagine a drawing of a person who is just all arms, or all legs, it's erie and strange and highly unfunctional. The body of Christ, God’s people, isn’t made of one person. There are the elderly, those who have autism, the youths, those who have mental ill-health. those who can sing and clap at the same time, those who are sexual minorities. You’re not in the body because of a particular gift or a particular struggle, no one can tell you you’re not a part of the body because of what you can or can’t do. And you can’t say that to yourself either:
15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” it is not for that reason any less a part of the body... 18 But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as he wanted.
God is the one who determines who is in or not. Especially for our brothers and sisters who are sexual minorities, who are believers and following Jesus – it is dangerous for us to begin to judge their place, and an even more dangerous place to exclude them Paul warns again in vs 25: there should be no division in the body,
3. Paul warns against pride in any part of the church.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
Sometimes as pastors and leaders, we may not say this explicitly but we do it implicitly. We may welcome sexual minorities, but when the long path of obedience is draining our resources too much, we’ll fade away. We may love when someone comes out, but start to recoil from hugs and intimate friendship because we’re scared “we’ll lead them on.” We might have a lot to say about why Homosexuality is wrong, but have little relationship with people who are gay or lesbian. “We don’t need you.” “You have not space here.” “We don’t want you.” Might not be spoken, but might be shown, leaving our brothers and sisters to feel like liabilities.
Or, other times, faithful brothers and sisters who are sexual minorities, have spent years being silent and hurt, and they say to us: “We don’t need you.” Sometimes it’s because Christians have wrongly hurt or marginalised, or spoke truth in an unloving way. For this we must apologise, otherwise we are hyppocrites. Others have left because of personal convictions; for whom we must pray. For those who stay, they hold onto years of silence and gay jokes and hurt and pain that make them even unable to come out and share, to be vulnerable, to be loved, accepted and to be walked alongside and not constantly told they are depraved and wrong and broken.
4. Those who seem to be of less importance, in the topsy turvey kingdom of God, have greater honour.
We could say that those who are deliberately marginalised or not are, v22 indispensable; the minority in the church, brothers and sisters who have a disability, elderly, weak, chronically fatigued or are part of a sexual minority have a place.
Their obedience in silence is a sign of the obedience of Jesus in silence.
Their endurance in mockery is a sign of the endurance of Jesus in mockery.
Their resilience in a world that tells them that the easier path is the better path is a sign of the resilience of Christ who was tempted that the easier path is the better path.
Their faith in a world and a church that looks at their brokenness in shame is a sign of the faith of Jesus as those around him looked at his brokenness on the cross.
The marginalised have a place in the kingdom of God. In the gospels, they appear to have a central place at the table of Jesus. That doesn’t give anyone the right to have a chip on the shoulder, but it does give the equal purpose of the marginalised a way to walk as Christ walked.
5. And finally, paul writes: 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
When brothers and sisters suffers silently, unknowingly the body of Christ suffers. When they suffer with the body of Christ, we suffer as well but together. There's a speech by Toby Ziegler in the West Wing , “We win together, we lose together. We celebrate and we mourn together. And defeats are softened and victories sweeter because we did them together... You're my guys and I'm yours... and there's nothing I wouldn't do for you..” At Liberty, we strive for that to be a reality, to follow the words of Jesus and to walk with those who are hurting, wrestling and needing support in the wilderness of sexuality.