The past year I have seen a good friend of mine go through trial (and error) with a relationship with a young man and its effects on her relationship with Jesus.
Her story, while unique, is something I have experienced, both personally and vicariously through others. In a nutshell, a long time friend of hers has been on and off with his pursuit of Jesus but has always been on in his pursuit of her.
While her younger self made promises to him that she would give him a chance if he got his act together and started loving, following, and pursuing Jesus, her growing sanctified self realized that it was a promise she couldn’t keep. This brought on a very difficult time telling him no, despite the fact he appears to be trying to be more like Jesus. By God’s grace, she understands her identity is in Jesus and the gift of salvation on the cross – not by man’s approval (Galatians 1:10-11) – and is patiently trusting this as she is belittled and her character attacked.
All together, my friend showed great faith and perseverance as she has succeeded in loving and reflecting Jesus, and pushing this young man to the cross.
That said I want to give a few thoughts of what I’ve seen other’s do in the same situation.
1. Be leery of people who start pursuing Jesus because of a member of the opposite sex.
While it seems obvious, it isn’t to most people. Too many (young) Christians challenge someone they are interested in to follow and love Jesus, hoping they do, hoping they can eventually date, fall in love, and get married.
As soon as the other person starts to show signs of new life, the relationships starts only to see that the roots weren’t set in good soil and instead were like seeds thrown on a rocky path (Luke 8:4-8).
This nearly always ends badly, normally with one or both people returning to habitual sin, often times together, and it leads to a broken relationship with Jesus.
2. Jesus Redeems Bad Motivators
While I am strongly against jump-starting a relationship when someone starts to pursue Jesus because of another (see point 1), that doesn’t mean Jesus can’t or won’t redeem it.
Jesus uses a plethora of inspirations to bring people to Him (Philippians 1:18). Personally, I am a living example of this. I started to attend Bible study and church regularly because of a young lady. I started to read my Bible out of competition to show her I loved Jesus too (I was 14, give me a break.) Healthy? No. Ordained in God’s plan? Amen.
Fast forward 9 years later and by the grace of God I am attending a Bible loving university, serving in a Jesus loving church, and passionately pursuing Jesus! That young lady is happily married and is a part of a family (which will grow hopefully soon?) that is all about Jesus.
If a person is saying they will start getting their act together for you, encourage them to do three things.
· First, help them find a different Jesus-loving church than you, and attend regularly on their own.
· Second, encourage them to find a mentor (1x1) in this church and make sure they are going.
· Third, watch and see if they get into a community group (or life group, core group, whatever the church calls it).
3. You’re Not Jesus
People always try to become replacement parts. As Pastor Mark Driscoll says in his Trial Serieswomen often times stick around with boys because their maternal instinct kicks in.
For men, often times our “Mr. Fix It” side kicks in. We try to become whatever they need – Replacement Dad, Mom, Brother, Sister, Pastor, Mentor, etc. At the end of the day, it’s really a worship issue. We worship them as our idol, and therefore we try to make ourselves their idol.
You aren’t Jesus nor can you replace real Jesus. Don’t try.
4. Pray, Pray, and Pray Some more.
This seems obvious, but one area that I saw my friend really excel in was her dedicated prayer to this young man. She always trusted that God’s will would be done even if it was against her desires.
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5 that we should “pray without ceasing” and James the brother of Jesus adds that we should pray in all situations and pray over people in all situations (James 5:13-18).
Whether this is prayer on your knees or prayer spent time journaling to God, be encouraged that prayer works in our best interests (even if we do not see it that way).
Finally, as much as prayer is talking and telling God where we are at, people forget equally and perhaps more importantly is to listen to God’s response. One book I found extremely helpful for this and other disciplines of being a disciple is Celebration of Disciplineby Richard Foster.
5. Live on Mission
What is your inspiration for others to come to Christ? Is it so they will use their skill set to somehow benefit your church and ministry or is it because you deeply care for their soul and eternal situation?
If you’re motivation for someone to love Jesus is for your benefit (aka so you can date them) then you should probably check out of the game and have other Jesus loving people surround your friend.
If you’re motivation is for their soul and advancing the Kingdom of Christ, then stop playing the game and be smart. Jesus knew His own physical limitations in ministry (read Luke for countless examples). He constantly left his ministry to spend time alone. If you truly honestly believe Jesus is calling you to minister into someone of the opposite sex’s life, do it wisely and don’t be afraid to wander into the wilderness to recharge.
If it’s a guy, surround them with brothers you can trust. If it’s a girl, find Jesus-loving girls to surround her and show her what a Godly woman looks like.
Remember that ultimately it’s Jesus who brings real change, and you have a limitation emotionally, spiritually, and physically and that your role is ultimately smaller compared to people of the same gender.
Never grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). Realize your limitations, realize your actual calling, and don’t be selfish. Simple enough, right?
Matthew is a senior at Biola University studying Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. For contact information, questions, comments, or to drop a line, click here.
I hate watching movies twice. Very few movies make the cut of “films worth seeing twice” much less on a regular basis in my mind.
That being said, I love 500 Days of Summer. I’ve watched it numerous times, and each time, it becomes a little more thought provoking.
Summer is one of those movies that people love-to-love or hate-to-hate. Some enjoy its factual “reality” while hopeless romantics hate the fact that good ol’ Tom doesn’t get (spoiler…3 years later…) to marry Summer.
After watching the end of the movie, I thought I would write a really quick blurb on 5 Things I Learned from 500 Days of Summer. I’ll try to hold back the theological rhetoric, but I will of course look at it through a Gospel-lens, because as always, it’s all about Jesus.
1. “Look up.” – Tom.
Tom advises Summer to look up when they are traversing through downtown Los Angeles – something many city slickers forget to do. What she sees is breath taking architecture, a blend of cultures, and blue sky (must have rained the day before. #smog).
In terms of relationships, sometimes we get lost in our current situation. For those of you dating someone who has some issues and needs a lot of redemption through Christ, look up.
Dr. Muehlhoff, a communications professor at Biola University, once said that he hates to hear people say that they are sticking with their current significant other “because God has called me to love them no matter what.” Dr. Muehlhoff’s response? “NO! You aren’t called to love your boyfriend or girlfriend unconditionally, that’s saved for your spouse.”
Remember. Break ups are hard, but they are okay. Jesus redeems bad situations, and if you or the other (or both) need some time in counseling and mentorship before you date, that’s okay. Look up – there are better things if we follow God’s will.
2. “You must not have been looking.” – Autumn.
In an ironic and artistically well-done moment in the story, Autumn tells Tom she has seen him – but he has not seen her before. She responds by telling him he must not have been looking.
How many times do we do that in relationships? Most of the time, we spend our time looking in the wrong places – ourselves. We look for someone who fits our interests, our needs, our weaknesses, our strengths, our salary range, our league, etc.
What we don’t do is look – look at Jesus, look at the Kingdom, look where Jesus is calling us, and looking for the right spouse at the right time.
Start looking at Jesus and you’ll find the perfect spouse. Start looking (seeking) the Kingdom and passionately pursue Jesus and expanding your Christian family, and then God will provide you the vision for the right person at the right time.
3. “Most days of the year are unremarkable….most days have no impact on the course of life.” – Narrator.
Don’t let the relationship doldrums get to you. Obviously, there will be days with less excitement than others, days with arguments, days with rainy afternoons – that’s what happens when you bring two depraved beings together in relationship. Hence, the Bible talks a lot about “oneness” when a man leaves his father and mother to be joined with his wife. (Eph. 5:25-33)
However, if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé or fiancée, or husband or wife are living on mission to advance and build the Kingdom, then every day has an impact on the course of life and for eternity.
Whether you work in a secular environment, ministry, or are a stay at home mom, your daily life has an impact on others. Every day is a chance to live out the journey to get to the destination, because indeed life is about the destinations – you’re either living a life that reflects Jesus and has a deep yearning for heaven, or your living a life that reflects sin and is plotting you to death for eternity in hell.
4. “I woke up one morning and I just knew…what I was never sure with you.” – Summer.
At this point in the movie, it’s anticlimactic yet powerfully profound. Summer never “knew” with Tom. Again, fighting the urge to argue that premarital sex, emotional baggage, and different expectations coupled with bad communication limits our ability to “know” if we are to be with someone, but I digress…
As human beings, we can only truly know one thing – God – and even that knowledge comes through faith, grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Without Jesus in our lives, we will be like Summer: lost, confused, and never sure of anything.
With grace and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we can know – through faith – and be sure “of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). Obviously, this is talking about salvation and the resurrection of Christ.
In relationships, I’d argue that faith in Christ can make a person sure of committing to another sinful and depraved person. That’s the beauty of love from and through Christ – we can love someone’s good as much as we love someone’s bad (their need for Christ).
We can wake up, and be sure that even though this person will never be perfect, that we will struggle at times, that we will argue and disagree at times, through grace and sanctification, we can be sure of our love for the other, and become one. Thumbs up for the longest run on sentence in history.
5. “I think you’re just remember the good stuff. Next time you look back, I think you should really look again.” – Rachel.
We like to swing two directions on the pendulum – remembering only the good (typically if we get dumped like Tom) or growing in bitterness and remembering only the bad. As Rachel advises Tom, we need to do both.
Tom looks back on his times with Summer, and sees past the good memories and the hopeless romantic moments to see that she had her pretty horrendous moments as well.
This won’t solve all problems or heal all wounds, and unlike Tom we probably won’t get the blessing of a random park encounter with our ex to provide a gut-wrenching quote of truth and honesty, but it helps.
By looking at both sides, we can enjoy the good memories and realize the growth from the process – growth that God ordained for us, and albeit that we normally stain all relationships with moments of sin, it’s by God’s grace that we live to see another day, and journey on hoping to be blessed by the gift of marriage…with that:
6. “Hi, I’m Autumn.” – Autumn.
Jesus has a calling on your life, that calling will provide the perfect person, at the perfect time, for a perfect ministry together. Don’t forget to look for your Autumn, and Autumns, don’t forget to be willing to take a chance just like Autumn did on Tom.
Matthew is a senior at Biola University studying Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. For contact information, questions, comments, or to drop a line, click here.
The past few weeks have been rather stormy at Biola University to say the least.
Everyone who attends this university is aware of the situation at hand, but for those who don’t know what happened, I’ll briefly cover the situation before going into this blog.
A few weeks ago, a group came forward anonymously, calling themselves “Biola Underground.” While claiming that they are students, staff, and faculty from Biola, they also state that the group is not claiming affiliation with the university itself.
They have come forward, as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers, desiring to have acceptance and to some degree, equality amongst students. They want the freedom to be open about their lifestyles and choice of sexuality.
Until Friday, Biola had no official announcement other than claiming that it is a serious matter and they wanted to think through all aspects before making a statement.
On Friday, Dr. Barry Corey, our university president, spoke at chapel. While I wasn’t there personally, I heard he openly defended the school’s stance against homosexuality, as our school’s beliefs with the Bible align with a position against it.
I commend DBC for his words, and I look forward to watching the video myself – I will post it as soon as it is made available.
As a person who grew up in the ultra-liberal city of Portland, Ore., I was exposed to the issues of homosexuality early, know many homosexuals personally, and have witnessed the churches in Portland handle the issue both with grace, conviction, and truth as well as bitterness, hate, and shame.
This has provided insight and perspective, and I hope this blog provides both to you, the reader, as we wrestle through this issue together.
When it comes to any controversial issue of society, I believe that as Christians, we must ask three vital questions in order to properly evaluate where we should stand with our opinions on it.
1. What does the Bible, and subsequently the creator God and his son, Jesus, say?
2. How do we react in light of biblical-truth as Christians, as a church, and as people living in the world but not of it?
3. What should our actions be towards those who do not agree?
These questions are baseline, pivotal, and should lead us in our processing and decision making over hot topics within the church. If we don’t start here, we don’t start anywhere. It starts with God, his Word, and the church, and ends with Jesus, the cross, and the Gospel message.
I will divide this into two portions, first talking to homosexuals and about homosexuality, and secondly to Christians, my peers at Biola, and what I think we should do as believers.
To the Underground
First, I commend you for bravery for writing, posting, and stepping out with a convicted voice over this issue. You’re right – as a church, university, and believers, we have failed to make your voice known and have failed to be open to conversations over this controversial and heavy topic.
Being taught in Psychology and haven taken many steps in readings of research, I want to first say that I agree with you on some crucial points: God does not make mistakes, there is evidence homosexuality is part of humanity and not as much of a choice as believers argue, and that although many have tried, sometimes you can’t change your desires.
I hope that those reading understand that I’m very open when it comes to this discussion – I want all people to be pushed towards Jesus, the Cross, and His gospel message. I desire all to be freed in Christ, to spend eternity with Him, and to live a life that allows them to flourish for the Kingdom.
Many people are arguing that the fundamental issue is that the Underground has not admitted wrong or come forward with repentance and that it needs to be addressed as a sin issue (more on this later). This too, is true.
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
The Bible is littered with passages on homosexuality including many passages from the Old Testament (Gen 19:5, Lev. 18:22, 20:13) and how it led to destruction (Sodom and Gomorrah). Genesis 2:24 explicitly states that God created man to be with woman,that he would leave home and his family to be joined with her.
In the New Testament, Paul writes explicitly in Romans about homosexuality, stating “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26-27).
These are arguments in scripture that very openly state that homosexuality is not natural, that God considers it an abomination and sin, and that if we are to believe and follow Christ we must “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).
The Bible, and God, very openly states that homosexuality is a sin. So, what do we do with that knowledge?
First, if you truly want to be in communion with Christ, you must first admit that homosexual desires are not natural, and actions because of the desires are sinful. Just like premarital sex, lust, pride (more on this later), and legalism, it’s a sin we must put to death in order to live with Christ.
I’m not stating that if you become a believer, you’re biological DNA will morph and you will be a heterosexual. Albeit, there are cases and stories where individuals found Christ, put their sins to death, and move on to become married and have a family – but I’m not saying that you must follow the same path.
Much like a man who needs to die to his lustful desires everyday, or someone who struggles with judgmental pride, sin is sin, and we must die to it. God didn’t necessarily intend for you to be homosexual, as he doesn’t intend people to be prone to pornography and lust, but yes, part of who you are may be that your DNA is wired for homosexuality.
However, I know that it won’t be an easy journey. We do need to be open as a campus to this discussion. For homosexuals, be filled with grace and love that you may discover truth through scriptures and know Jesus. Be willing to talk about truth from a biblical standpoint, and be willing to accept what God says as truth. That’s your responsibility as an individual within the homosexual community-seeking acceptance from the church.
After reading through you’re website, there are no biblical claims to why you think homosexuality is not a sin. I would love to read your thoughts and have subsequent biblical proof. My fear is that, like many issues in the church, we as humans are prone to manipulate scripture into something we want it to be, instead of taking it is as truth for what it says.
Now onto the “fun” stuff.
To Biola University Students (and some staff and faculty):
How do we react in light of biblical-truth as Christians, as a church, and as people living in the world but not of it?
Answer: not as most of you have.
The past few weeks have become a mudslinging battle. When uncomfortable topics are brought up, the worst comes out in Christians. We tend to either run and hide (sins of omission) or go on the offensive and belittle, destroy, and condemn those living with sins (sins of commission). To say that I am embarrassed, hurt, and disappointed in fellow Biola students is an understatement.
Yes, homosexuality is a sin as I just stated above. Yes, The Underground did not come out with a heart of repentance. Yes, Biola University stands on Bible and it’s doctrines. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The immediate scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 12:34 when Jesus lashes out against the scribes and the Pharisees, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
The hearts of many were exposed the past few weeks, and those hearts are full of ignorance, hate, and anger.
How can we expect to take a progressive lead in discussions on homosexuality when we are condemning them to hell, as if it is our job and not God’s?
Refresh my memory, but if you’re story is anything like mine and those in the church, Christ met you where you were, not where you are now.
By God’s grace, I was brought into salvation when I was 14 as a young man who was suicidal, addicted to pain medications, and whose pride and lust reeked from my soul. It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but it’s been a beautiful one of sanctification and God’s grace.
If you forget this, you forget and reject the message of the Gospel – Christ came to save sinners like us and bring us into redemption (1 Tim. 1:15).
We cannot expect homosexuals to be willing to talk if we are taking the role of the Creator to condemn His creation.
Yes, stand upon moral and scriptural convictions.
Yes, the homosexual community (if they want to live in communion with Christ) must recognize homosexuality as a sin.
Yes, God hates all sin.
But most importantly, God loves His people and His creation so much so that He sent his Son to die on a cross (Jn. 3:16 if anyone needs it…).
So, what should our actions be towards those who do not agree?
1. Be loving. Don’t condemn sinners to hell because that’s not your job. You’re calling is to passionately pursue Jesus, seek the Kingdom, and make disciples and plant churches.
2. Be grace filled. Don’t come out lashing in anger and hate, or even blunt truth, conviction, and correction if you’re heart isn’t first filled with a burning passion, love, and sadness over the sin of our student body (all sins, not just homosexuality). A hard heart with soft answers does more damage than good. A soft heart with hard answers is accepted as genuine, because it comes from a source of love and care.
3. Be willing to talk, and do you’re homework. Don’t blindly argue with stale old biblical points and cliché sayings, “It’s a choice not the way you are born!” – Read up on psych articles, including articles by Christians who are smarter and wiser than you, before you make a stand.
Finally, reflect Jesus. Our goal, mission, and passion should be that we push people to Jesus and the Gospel message of the cross. Are you doing this by ridiculing or making fun of The Underground?
Realize that this is a conversation that is going to take place whether we like it or not and we have two options: make it better or make it bitter (Pastor Mark shout out.)
Just as with all sins, we need discipleship, training, love, grace, and Jesus to overcome it. We can not just sweep it under the rug anymore.
I have one more challenge, and that’s that you pray. Pray unceasing, pray for homosexuals, pray for the sins of our university and our churches, and most importantly, pray God takes charge of your heart. You may find, that you too do not know Jesus or are not walking with him.
Matthew is a senior at Biola University. Originally from Portland, Ore., he has resided in Los Angeles for the past three years. For more information or for questions, you can contact him via email and you can follow him on Twitter (@mattfier).
The purpose, mission, and goal of this blog is to provide perspective to Christians and push people towards Jesus and the Gospel message of the cross.