“Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ . . . Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ.” –1 Cor. 9:19, 22 (NLT)
I had an interesting conversation this summer with a man at a church picnic. Because I had never met him, at first glance I thought he was going through chemotherapy. He wore a knit cap in ninety-degree weather, had no hair on his arms, legs or face, and had penciled in his eyebrows. Only after I sat across from him at lunch did I understand the situation.
After his grandmother introduced me to him, he said, “If you were the pastor of a church, how would you deal with people involved in alternate lifestyles?”
Not wanting to seem presumptuous about where he was heading, I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “You know, people involved in same sex marriages. You’re from California, so you know what I’m talking about.”
I smiled at that and said, “I cannot support a lifestyle that the Bible obviously condemns. However, people involved in alternate lifestyles are always welcome in ‘my’ church, but by choosing to live in a way that disobeys Scripture, I would not allow them to be involved in a leadership position. The same would be true for a man who chooses to gamble away his paycheck and then borrows money from his friends for food. My concern is always for the ultimate good of the individual, regardless of their actions.”
Then I said something that seemed to please him. “I have only one requirement for a person to come to my church: they must be a sinner. Therefore, everyone is welcome.”
The man smiled and said, “Thanks. That’s a good answer. I like that.”