Jason Collins and Jesus

There have been many positions taken on the issue of Jason Collins sharing his homosexual lifestyle with the world. So here are some things for believers to consider as we engage with others on the subject. 

1. Every person in the world is born with a sinful nature. 
This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:1-3 NKJV)

God made man in his holy likeness but Adam sinned and was forever tainted. When Adam had descendants they were made in his sinful likeness. So in our world people are born with tendencies toward alcoholism, theft, impure sexual desires, hatred, murder, dishonesty, and any other sin including homosexuality. Yes, some people are born homosexuals. Our heavenly Father didn’t make them that way, our earthly father Adam did. 

2. Sin is sin. 
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10 NIV)
There are no big or little sins. My wife’s grandmother had a saying: “folks go to hell for lying as well as stealing.” It’s true. The glutton and the murderer are both just as guilty. The dishonest person and the sexually impure are both hell worthy. 

Make no mistake, homosexuality is a sin in both the Old and New Testaments:

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:13 NKJV)

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26, 27 NIV)

But before you grab your torches and pitch forks consider this:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32 NKJV)

So don’t be in shock or react with more contempt or disgust over homosexuality than you do other sins. All sin disgusts God. 

3. Preach rather than Persecute. 
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18 NKJV)

Jesus didn’t come to condemn or persecute the world. It wasn’t necessary because people who have not accepted Jesus as Lord of their lives and savior of their souls are condemned already. 

The last thing we should do is attack, persecute, condemn, or judge homosexuals. Instead we should share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. The only thing that can change them is the abiding power of the Holy Spirit given to them in salvation. Once a person is saved and filled with the Holy Spirit they are empowered to repent of their sins and seek God’s righteous standard of living. 

We just need to remember to give the new believer grace to change. Every new believer, regardless of what sin they’ve committed needs the grace that catches us when we fall and gives us another chance to seek God’s righteousness without condemnation. 

So, if Jason Collins hasn’t accepted Jesus, all he needs from believers is the good news. If he has already accepted Jesus, he needs grace, encouragement, and support to help him repent of his sin and glorify God in his lifestyle. 

Share!

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41, 42 NKJV)

When my daughter, faith was a preschooler, my wife and I devised a simple way to teach her to share. We would look at her, hold out our hands and say “share!” Next, we would explain the benefits of sharing. Then we would help her divide what she had or make a plan on how she could share. 

It wasn’t long before Faith turned the tables and used the same method on us! If I had something good like a peanut butter cookie (my favorite) she would hold out her hand and say “share!” Because I wanted the benefits of sharing to be real in her life I would obey the command, break that cookie without hesitation, and give it to her. Even though she’s a teenager now, we still have this exchange in our home but we choose to share more often than we are commanded to share. 

The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. The word used for fellowship in this scripture literally means “to share”. These believers had a culture of sharing good things with each other. In any community of believers there are people who possess wonderful talents, knowledge, gifts, and skills. All of these things are given for the benefit, growth, and development of the entire faith community. 

Here is an idea; instead of being commanded or forced or even coerced to share the spiritual blessings God has deposited in our lives, we should do so willingly. Sharing should be a vital part of our faith culture. Each time we share we are working with God to be a blessing to others. In time the same kindness will be returned to us by others who choose to share. 

How can you share areas of your spiritual life with others?

The Leader’s Point of View

I’m on the road a lot and I give God thanks for my safety. On a weekly basis I find myself in situations where traffic on the interstate slows to a stop. The causes range from accidents and construction to fallen debris like sod, barrels, or furniture. One of the two lanes will get shut down and I can’t always see which lane to get in to navigate through the congestion quickly.

But you know what I’ve noticed? 18 wheelers that are ahead of me will always move over to the clear lane because they are either communicating with those ahead of them, or they can see the path from their higher position. Every time I follow their lead, I end up in the right lane to help me reach my destination.

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41, 42 NKJV)

In Acts 2 the new believers continued in the apostles’ doctrine, or teaching. The apostles’ doctrine consisted of teachings handed to them by Jesus himself. No one could lead people to God better than the son of God himself. No one could lead the new believers in their faith better than the apostles. These were the men who had intimate communication with the leader ahead of them (Jesus). These were the men who had journied to spiritual heights with Jesus and could see the path ahead.

Professional and Personal Application

Professional Application
I’ve served in corporate and non-profit organizations and can’t count the number of times subordinates have questioned the decisions of their supervisors, managers, and leaders. Sometimes the subordinates were right but most times they were only right from their perspective. They may not have known the principles, constraints, or key indicators their leaders were bound to use in decision making. Some things just aren’t visible from a lower position just as I can’t see road obstructions in my car the way truck drivers can.

Two things: 1. If you’re the subordinate, remember the decision making process may be different from your leader’s position. Ask questions to try to understand things from the leader’s perspective rather than drawing conclusions on your own. 2. If you’re the leader communicate well to your followers to keep confusion down and morale high. Clear the lane for those behind you. Be steadfast in sharing and your team will be steadfast in their commitment to follow you.

Personal Application
No one knows how to live an abundant life like Jesus.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)

When our lives are hindered by sins that close lanes to our blessings or struggles that block our paths to fulfillment, our life leader, Jesus, can see more from his higher position. He can help us navigate through any difficulties in the path ahead. We just need to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, following Jesus every step of the way.

Wear the Jersey and Hat

When it comes to sports, I’m loyal to my teams. Recently I had a conversation with a sales associate at a men’s clothing store about professional football. In the course of the conversation he tried to get me to renounce my Dallas Cowboys and become a fan of his Atlanta Falcons. He wanted me to change my loyalties and associate myself with a new team, complete with the jersey and hat. 

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37, 38 NKJV)

At Pentecost, Peter delivers a message urging the crowd to renounce their way of living and live for Jesus instead. The message is so compelling they ask what they should do. Peter says repent (change your minds, attitudes, and habits) and be baptized (publicly affirm your faith in Jesus). He’s basically saying “Change to Team Jesus. Then wear the jersey and the hat.”

Lets be honest; we are all loyal to thoughts, attitudes, and habits that are not like Jesus. In those areas we are fans of Team Self and Team Sin. Neither of those teams will win in the end. We may resist the idea of changing to something different when we’re already committed to our way of doing things. But I’m convinced God’s thoughts, attitude, and ways are more fulfilling than any other way. 

So here’s my pitch to you: change to Team Jesus. He’s already conquered the enemy, sin, death, hell, and the grave. He always wins for you and has already been declared the winner of the final battle at the end of the world. Go ahead and wear his jersey and hat with pride for all the world to see. 

What’s stopping you from changing teams?

Leading With Excellence

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9 NKJV)

My cousin, Anthony Bishop, can bake. I tend to rate cakes on a scale of 1 to Tony. Seriously, his red velvet will make your tongue reach into your skull and slap your brain. Even though he uses the same average ingredients as other bakers, he still achieves a high level of excellence that is apparent to anyone who tastes his cakes. 

Often in leadership we have certain constraints to work with due to budget limitations, quality of resources, personnel, timing, or circumstances. Regardless of the constraints relative excellence can still be achieved when we create a working culture where every team member does the best they can with what they have. 

Even though Jesus was working with a child’s sack lunch (average quality) he still led his team to feed more than 5000 people with a level of excellence worthy of the Son of God. 

What level of excellence are you seeking to achieve?

Effective Leadership

In the past I’ve attended church services for special occasions. At the conclusion of the services someone would stand up and thank everyone for making the occasion a “success”. I’ve often wondered what exactly was it that made the program a “success”. What was the goal and how did they know the goal had been reached? Did the goal for the program line up with the goals of the church? Did they really have a specific goal in mind or were they aiming for the vague goal of having a “good program”?
 
“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.” (John 6:5, 6 NKJV)
 
The feeding of the 5000 was not randomly initiated, loosely targeted, or vaguely evaluated. Jesus had some specific goals in mind. People needed to be fed, the disciples needed to be tested, a miracle needed to be performed as further evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, and God needed to be glorified. 
 
Jesus accomplished all of his goals for leadership. At the end of the day we know Jesus was effective because his goals were clear and measurable. 
 
How do you know when your business or ministry is effective?

Efficient Leadership

“Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” (John 6:10, 12 NKJV)”

Early in our marriage I tried to help my wife, Melissa, clean house. I had plenty of willpower but I didn’t have a plan. I was all over the place, moving from room to room, and getting poor results. My efforts were not very efficient and took all day.

Melissa noticed my dilemma and suggested I stay in one room to clean. She suggested I do the bigger more obvious things first and then work on the smaller details second. Thanks to her advice my efforts were more efficient, with no wasted effort. Cleaning became more enjoyable for me because I could visibly see progress as I completed my tasks in a given room.

Jesus shows us in his example how important efficiency can be in leading ministry. He had one lunch and twelve workers, but he also had five thousand men, not including women and children to feed, on a hill side with no facilities or utensils.

His plan was brilliant and efficient:
Sit the men down, which would also encourage others to do the same.
Distribute the food one time allowing the crowd to get their fill.
Gather up the fragments so none is wasted.

In the end the experience was enjoyable for the crowd as well as the disciples who served them. The disciples’ efforts weren’t scattered. The enthusiasm of the crowd wasn’t diminished due to hunger. The resources in the form of food weren’t wasted.

How can efficient leadership help your ministry or organization?