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What to Do When a Loved One “Comes Out”

This is where it gets practical and personal. Your loved one (like all of us) needs community, a family . . . and hope. Where better to experience these things than around your dinner table, in your church, and in the everyday stuff of life? This is especially important if theyve already experienced rejection from others. As you long for their restoration and walk with them, your friendship and love are the most beautiful gifts you can give . . . because it reflects the heart of Jesus.

Our Savior ate with both the religiousandthe prostitutes and swindlers of His day. Remember that Jesus didnt make a distinction in welcoming people into His life based on their behavior, temptations, or lifestyle, as were often prone to do. All sorts of people were welcome at His table, because thats where He taught and displayed the gospel. When the Pharisees questioned Him on the company He kept, He was bold and unashamed:

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners(Matthew 9:12-13).

Consider this: If our meals are more of a meeting of self-righteous religiosity than a welcoming feast to a motley crew, are we really reflecting the heart of Jesus? When a loved one says, Im gay or Im struggling, should we not do the same as Christ didshowing hospitality to those who need a family, making room at the table for the outcast, and demonstrating mercy toward sinners?

Perhaps this last truth is difficult for youit may raise questions in your mind about the implications. Yes, it looks messy. But grace rarely comes in when things are washed-up and clean. You may end up sitting by your loved ones side in the hospital after a suicide attempt and making room for them in your home (asRosaria Butterfieldonce did).

Lets be honest: Your church friends may judge and look askance at you when your daughter, in a short haircut and mens clothing, walks through the door. As you show love and share your table with your loved one, you may face the same rejection as Christ did from the Pharisees. But remember, our Lord says, I came for the ones (including us!) who need my friendship and salvation. By sacrificing your comfort in this way, you can be Gods means of showing Christs grace in the world.

Also know that loving and welcoming does not negate any of the other truths above. We must seek Gods best for our loved ones, which always means honoring Him first. We are never to sacrifice truth, but we also are not to sacrifice love.1 John 3:18says it best: Little children, let us not love in word or talk butin deed and in truth.

Some closing thoughts:

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