“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42 NIV
It was 1983 and I was busy trying to remain invisible while making my way through the jungle maze of middle school.
A place I didn’t fit.
A place where mishaps mean life sentence.
I had an affinity for outcasts, nerds, those viewed as losers – anyone on the outside looking in because I didn’t fit in either.
I heard the rumor and knew instinctively it was true.
The rumor that was no rumor – my friend is gay.
My heart was instantly burdened, heavy for my friend because I knew what it meant – isolation, ridicule and social suicide.
I didn’t care about her being gay – my heart hurt for what was to come.
As a young girl, I wasn’t sure what to say, how to reach out or if it was okay with God to be her friend.
I decided to ask my pastor.
I’m thankful for words of grace spoken to an earnest, impressionable heart.
My pastor told me God loves my friend.
He said homosexuality is sexual sin – like sex outside of marriage is sin.
And the Bible says having angry thoughts toward a person is the same as murder.
Looking with lust is the same as adultery.
My pastor told me without Jesus, we are all destined for death – that’s why the gospel of Jesus Christ is called the good news.
He said to love my friend.
I left the conversation feeling relieved.
Relieved and angry.
People who lie go to church every Sunday.
Why are liars welcome but not people who are gay?
My young heart burned with the hypocrisy.
It was wrong. I knew it was wrong.
I read my Bible and understood Jesus came for sinners. He didn’t turn away from the woman at the well.
He stopped the stoning.
Jesus reached out to people living in sin.
There must have been people who were homosexual during Jesus’ time on earth yet He never singled them out.
Jesus loves everyone.
He died for all.
People Jesus died for are set aside and labeled worse than.
People God loves.
People created in His image.
Anger is murder.
Lustful eyes adultery.
I’m a plank-eyed saint when I’m more concerned with other people’s sin than my own.
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” –Jesus
I minimize my sin and focus on yours.
I feel better about myself and deny the ways I fall short.
Search the Bible – Jesus never judged.
He loved sinners and saints.
Prodigals and priests.
Shepherds and sheiks.
When religious leaders brought a woman caught in sexual sin to Jesus, He said,
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
He was the One without sin, the One who could throw the stone and didn’t.
Here’s what happens next:
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11 NIV
Neither do I condemn you.
Jesus calls us all to leave lives of sin.
Put down my life.
Take up His cross.
Pursue and go after.
Accept His authority.
Listen and obey.
Watch steadily and imitate.
Follow doesn’t mean make up my own rules and decide who gets Jesus and who doesn’t.
It doesn’t mean becoming the sin police.
If I follow Jesus, I do what He does – love God, love people.
Love that bends, reaches, leans in.
Follow means He leads.
I can’t but He can.
In my weakness, He is strong.
“Come, Follow Me.”
It’s not a one time invitation.
Faltering feet take baby steps of faith.
I fail, I fall.
“Follow Me. I make paths straight, heal wounds, restore sight, bring dead things to life.”
I learn it’s not about them but me and how and where I decide to walk.
By His wounds, I am free.
Jesus loves me this I know – me and you, us and them.
He loves us and died for all – there are no exceptions.