Ever faced that pivotal decision when you know what God wants you to do, you know what scripture says you should do, and yet you hesitate because you aren't sure God will be faithful to take care of you if you're obedient?
Recently I faced this. I was reminded of this passage:
"Every scripture has been written by the Holy Spirit, the breath of God. It will empower you by its instruction and correction, giving you the strength to take the right direction and lead you deeper into the path of godliness. Then you will be God's servant, fully mature and perfectly prepared to fulfill any assignment God gives you" (2 Timothy 3:16-17, TPT).
If we're going to have Jesus in our life, then we need his Word to be the bedrock upon which we build everything we believe.
Jesus is either exactly who he says he is, or he was insane. I love how C.S. Lewis puts it in his book Mere Christianity, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice."
A couple of weeks ago my conviction regarding the Word of God was put to the test in a very practical way. I worked for a Methodist church who recently decided they would not submit to the ruling authority of the Methodist General Conference to not allow openly LGBTQI in clergy. The pastor of this church decided she would allow her openly gay clergyman to continue preaching and serving communion no matter what the General Conference voted.
Going back to scripture, Paul writes in his letter to Timothy regarding overseers, "Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money..." (1 Timothy 3:2, ESV). Regarding deacons he writes in the same letter "Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified..." (1 Timothy 3:8-11a).
God's instructions to a church that follows him, follows his son Jesus Christ, are clear if you believe that every scripture is indeed breathed by the Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of those who penned scripture for us. Overseers and deacons are to be heterosexual, and repentant of sin.
The Methodist church I worked for decided Jesus' command to "love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34; 15:12 ESV) superseded all other scriptures.
Love by what definition? If we're continuing to default to Jesus and His Word, then we can trust that Jesus is the King and Messiah (Luke 23:3) and that he is love (1 John 4:8). If God is love, then anything God says and does is, by default, loving - even if it doesn't look like it to our sinful eyes.
I had a conversation with the staff in a meeting and asked each of them what they believed about the Word of God. After they'd made a very public statement (front page photo and article of the local newspaper that reached more than half a million people) of their decision to allow their openly gay clergy continue preaching, teaching and offering communion, I was faced with a decision.
Do I continue to work for a church who's leadership openly rejects what scripture teaches, or do I leave? Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus holds a particular passage of scripture that told me what God wanted me to do.
"Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity and covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful to even speak of the things they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, 'Awake O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:1-16, ESV).
I am far too well acquainted with my own sin to cast stones on others continuing to live in theirs. I have lived in a same-sex relationship while claiming to follow Christ and my own hypocrisy condemned me - I was tormented until I repented. I have lived in a state of perpetual drunkenness offering every excuse and justification and evasion known to man. Yet I am also convicted of God's grace which enables us to walk out of our sin and live in his righteousness - free from sin (Galatians 5:1; Romans 8:12-13). I haven't touched alcohol in nearly a year thanks to the grace of God alone.
Those are only two of my own long list of sins.
God's law condemns us and reveals our sinful nature, but He does not if we accept and submit to his son Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin so we could live in righteousness, not enslaved to sin. God's Word is for us.
This means every time God in his law says "don't" it's for our benefit. Every time Jesus says "do" or "do not" it's for our ultimate good. Even when our hearts break and we feel as if what God's asking is not loving at all, if we're going back to what we've chosen to accept as true (Jesus says we're to love as he loves and he IS love) then it's our perception that's wrong. Not him.
When it became clear the pastor of this church was going to continue supporting unrepentant people in leadership and unbiblical teaching from the pulpit, I told the team I could no longer partner with them. I quit my job that same day after sending an e-mail to the church body openly confessing my reasons for leaving so abruptly - a letter confessing my own sins and what scripture has to say about repentance, grace and the love of Jesus Christ.
Does God honor faithfulness to His Word?
I live paycheck to paycheck. Quitting without a financial safety net was a little terrifying, but I chose to trust God would provide. In return, I received a much larger tax return than I was anticipating - enough to cover the loss of a paycheck - a few days after I quit. I received a payment for a house sitting job I had done without any expectancy of pay.
One week after I quit my job the Lord had secured me a job as a private care provider for a family member of a friend of mine, a retired pastor with advanced alzheimers. The pay for this position is exactly the same pay I was making at my last job, the hours are more flexible, I get to continue serving in an equine ministry that is my passion, and I get to serve a man I've had a heart to serve for almost a year.
I'd say the answer is yes. God is faithful when we choose Him over all else.