Luke 8:41-42 & 49-55
The truth is that I didn’t know that I was dead. I’d never questioned my fundamentalist Christian beliefs. They were the foundation of my life. My mother and father trusted in them. My grandparents had trusted in them. Even knowing that I was Gay I had explained the paradox of reality versus belief by assuming that there was something wrong with me, not with my image of God. It never occurred to me for a moment that there might be something wrong with my beliefs.
I loved God. I’d loved God my whole life. I loved God the way I loved my parents. After all, God was just a deeply flawed person like each of my parents. God wanted to be love, but often put love aside to murder creation with a flood, a little fire and brimstone, or a plague. God wanted to be peace, but enjoyed the occasional war and would allow his own son to be nailed to a cross and tortured to death. God wanted to be nice, but we made him do things the way my father would say “You made me do this. I don’t want to, it hurts me more than it hurts you”. The God I loved was deeply flawed.
The God I’d been given in my youth wanted me to pretend to be straight, to marry a girl, have children, live fully in the two dimensional world of righteous, white, heterosexual male privilege. Everything else was simply teenage type rebellion. I was the prodigal son who hadn’t yet accepted the error of his ways and returned to the father that loved him, albeit loved him with a deeply conditional love.
I prayed to be straight. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for change, for help, for Grace, for the end. I rarely prayed for anyone else. What was the point? If God wouldn’t or couldn’t change me then why would God listen to my prayers about anybody else? If I prayed for someone I might even make things worse for them.
When I eventually doubted my beliefs enough to seek God I expected to be either struck down with supernatural fury or ignored. I had quite a shock. God simply said ‘hello’ and revealed a little. It turned out that God wasn’t the dysfunctional parent that I’d been led to believe ran everything, God was unconditional love. God wanted a relationship with me; the real man, the gay man, not a pretend man.
Yes, Jesus saved me. Not from some future hell but from my present hell. Jesus saved me from having to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, and set me free to be the person that I am. From death to life. From dark to light. From fear to Grace. As simple as that.
Being saved doesn’t come with a caveat, or an explanation; it is self evident. Being saved is not contingent upon behaviour, just as being saved is not about navigating some other worldly heaven and hell. Being saved is being rescued, here and now, into the fullness of life. Just like Jairus’ daughter. From death to life.
I wish someone had taught me that when I was a kid.
And I wish that when they had told me that God was love, which many people did, they’d also told me what love really was. Although on reflection, perhaps they didn’t know.
Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Luke 8:41-42 & 49-55