Wednesday, September 20, 2006

By Grace I Am What I...Was?

In a recent interview former NJ governor James McGreevey had this to say:

"What I didn't understand was that being gay, as with everything else, is a grace from God, and that by accepting that grace and by accepting that reality, by embracing that truth, I could authentically be who I was...The danger is when people have to act out in dark shadows. If people can be who they are in the bright light of day, can celebrate their uniqueness ... that's what promotes a moral fabric in a society."

My concern in this post is not with McGreevey's homosexuality per se, but rather in how he describes it as "a grace from God." There seems to be a growing trend in society today for individuals to declare that God blesses them when they embrace their "uniqueness" regardless of what that may be. The belief is that God's great gift to humanity is not transformation but confirmation; not repentance of what I have done, but acceptance of who I am.

Yet this seems to go against the Word of God that speaks of grace as a tool for transformation. Yes, while it is true that Jesus loves us where we are; he loves us too much to leave us there. Jesus embraced the adulterous woman, but then commanded her to go and sin no more. Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 said this:

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

This is grace in action. To change who we were that we might become what God intends us to be - inheritors of a kingdom. Paul, himself, admits in 1 Corinthians 5:10 that he what he once was has by the grace of God been transformed in what God intended for him to be. He went from Christ-hater to Christ-follower.

McGreevy longs for the day when people can be who they are in the light of day. He has no idea how ugly that day would be if people were able to give vent to what they are in their heart of hearts. Yet sadly we are moving to just such a day when nothing is taboo, when anything goes.

Yet Ephesians 5:11-17 says:

"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

The grace of God is a marvelous thing, but it should not be used as a cover for a sinful embrace of one's own selfish actions or desires. A true gift of grace is a renewed heart and a transformed life.

James McGreevey says he is on a spiritual journey. It is my prayer that he will find along the way what grace really means. And that truth will set him free to become what God wants him to become.

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