Service Performed by David Kinsley

Being Christ-like in an un Christ-like world
Picture: 1 Corinthians
Scripture Reading
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
New International Reader’s Version
One Body but Many Parts
12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts
make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all
baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body.
It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free
people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body
is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to
the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the
body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t
belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of
the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If
the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed
each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts
were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are
many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head
can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the
opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the
ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less
important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t
shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can
be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all
the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts
that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not
take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part
suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part
shares in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.
I sang a song a few weeks ago titled “A Loss for Words”. The lyrics say I
am empty, you are Holy, come and fill my heart with who you are, I’m
overwhelmed and at a loss for words”. I chose that song because of all
the hate and negativity going on in the world, leaving me overwhelmed
and at a loss for words. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to save us,
and again I am overwhelmed and at a loss for words.
Picture Mr Potato Head
The Apostle Paul was talking about the church as the body of Christ in
our reading this morning and the problems that occur when the
different parts of the body not don’t respect each other and get stuck
in conflict. I think the same concerns apply regarding the divisions
within the whole human family. It feels like the parts of the body are
no longer functioning together and we are all ignoring people as
individuals and are placing each other into separate boxes
(Conservative, liberal, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Democrats,
Republicans), and we seem to have lost sight that all of these parts
cannot function separated, but we need each other to be whole.
Picture Emojis
Lately I see my own friends on social media not only disagreeing, but
berating, bullying and intimidating each other. Some even unfriending
each other. Many who engage in this kind of behavior identify
themselves as Christians. I’ve seen posts such as “Where are all the
crazies with the guns when you need them”, “I wish someone would
take him/her out” and so on. I cannot believe as Christians we are
wishing death and harm to one another, let alone as human beings.
One of my friends who identifies as “Christian” posted that “All lives
matter” and then proceeded to blast all Middle Eastern countries. He
asked me how I could support people from these countries who would
throw me off a roof and stone me for being gay. I pointed out that
there are people in our own country who would gladly tell me that I
deserve to be stoned for being gay and who believe that are speaking
on behalf of Jesus. There are people with extreme views that promote
violence in all countries and religions, but when we make
generalizations about countries or religions because of these
extremists, we contribute to the great divisiveness that is tearing the
human family apart. I asked him if he had ever been to the Middle
East. He hadn’t. I told him I have and found it to be beautiful and the
people I met there to be warm and friendly. When I told him I prayed
that he never face the sort of discrimination a person can receive in this
country for being Gay or Muslim – something different from what
others consider the norm …..I got no reply, just crickets. This is a
former high school friend of mine. I wonder how we got here and
where has all the love gone?
Picture of young twins
Flash back to childhood.
My twin brother Dan and I were adopted as infants, and our parents
always made it known how much they loved us. (Picture of Darless)
Mom would tell us that our biological mother must have loved us very
much to give us up to have a better life than she could provide, and
that they loved us very much to go through the tedious process of
adoption. We grew up feeling like we were loved twice.
Picture of Dad, Dan and I
I was a pretty skinny kid and would often get made fun of for being
small and not into team sports. Dan and I would get picked on by the
neighborhood bullies. We would get called gay long before I knew
what that meant. One day I got into an argument with one of the
bullies and he started to chase me. I came to a chain link fence and
briskly flung myself over it. The other kid, being a little chubby ended
up getting stuck on top of it, and ripped his pants. So I started making
fun of him. My mother called me over and said that we should not
make fun of other people as we do not know what they are going
through. She pointed out he may be a bully because he is not getting
enough love at home that cause him to have insecurities. She told me
to try and put myself in other people’s shoes. My mother’s words
made an impression on me. I made a point from that time on of trying
to be more empathic towards people. No one should be made fun of.
Picture of Marching Band
I remember in high school being in marching band. We would cheer for
our team and help encourage and build them up. When our team was
not winning we would cheer louder and stronger to build them up. We
never denigrated or wished harm on the other team. Why do so many
people these days feel the need to tear down the “other team”?
Picture of Choir and Kathy and Henry
In addition to my family and friends, I was fortunate enough to have
the support of this church family when growing up. I even had
supportive pastors (Susanna and Jeff), church members and role
models for what it means to embrace one’s identity of being gay (Jim
and Duane).
Picture of Jim and Duane
I was nervous when I was trying to get up the courage to come out to
my parents. They sensed my anxiety. Picture of Dan, mom, dad and I
When I told them I was gay their response was “is that all? We thought
you had some big problem.” Similarly, when I came out to my
grandmother a few years later she said “so”? I said, “did you hear me?”
And she said, “yes, so you’re gay, it does not matter to me.” I know
how fortunate I am. Some gay people I know have been rejected by
their families – sometimes thinking this would be pleasing to Jesus –
when they came out to them.
Fresh out of college, I was afraid to mention being gay to my friends
and coworkers, even with the amount of support I had at home. I was
afraid of being rejected, but among my friends, with one exception, I
was accepted. In those days, you could get fired for being gay, in fact
up until June of this year, you could still get fired for being gay in about
half of the United States. When I finally opened up with my work
associates I was grateful to be similarly accepted and felt a great
burden had been removed from my shoulders.
But my work experience changed when I took a new job in 2000.
I was working for a large pharmaceutical company that valued diversity,
but my new supervisor was a member of a fundamentalist Christian
church. I did not have many conversations about my personal life
during the first year of working with her, but eventually she found out I
was gay. She wanted to “Pray the Gay away” and took many
opportunities to let me know that as a Christian she felt obligated to
tell me what she believed to be the truth which was that I would not go
to heaven if I was Gay. She took pride in what she considered her
Godly honesty, but her tongue cut me like a razor. She would criticize
me for the way I crossed my arms, for the way I stood, or even leaned
against a wall. She would never praise me when I did a good job, but
was sure to criticize me when my work fell short in her eyes. If I lacked
certain knowledge, she made disparaging comments about my
intelligence. She was abusive and justified her abuse because in her
mind it was what God would want her to do.
One day I’d simply had enough and I went to Human Resources. I
wasn’t planning to file a complaint, I just wanted to get advice on how
to handle the treatment I was receiving. The HR rep told me that
religion is very personal and that she must trust me to discuss it. She
gave me no advice. My visit was supposed to be confidential, but by
the time I walked back to our lab, I was being called to the director’s
office. I was basically told to shut up and keep working.
We kept working together in this dysfunctional way, two parts of the
same body but not working well together. I loved the work I was doing,
the salary was good and we were getting published, so it was hard for
me to just walk away from the abuse I was receiving.
One day my supervisor said GOD must have a reason why we were still
working together. She still felt it was because of something she was
supposed to be teaching me. I think I felt a God nudge suggest that
maybe she was the one who needed to learn something from me. I
pointed out to her that she was doing a lot of work with the youth of
her church and that some of them most likely were gay. I told her that
without a good support network, when they heard from her and others
that they were an abomination that God didn’t love, they could be
driven to become yet another teenager who takes their own life
because they couldn’t embrace their sexuality. And if this came to
pass, she would stand accountable before God for the cruelty she had
committed towards a vulnerable young person. At the time it didn’t
seem like she was listening to anything I was saying.
In 2011 our company was acquired by a larger one and when the
second round of layoffs came at the end of the year, the day I had
anticipated for twelve years finally arrived. I walked into the room and
my supervisor was crying and HR was there and they went through
their scripted speech regarding my termination. I calmly asked the
appropriate questions about my severance and then simply walked out.
As Jesus once said, “I shook the dust of my shoes” without any regrets
because I knew I had given the job my all.
Nonetheless, I still had to work another 2 weeks there before I could go
on paid leave, and during that time I was supposed to transfer all
scientific knowledge to my supervisor. Although I was always very
compliant and cooperative, she kept threatening that she could take
away my severance package and insurance benefits if I didn’t give her
everything she required, lecturing me about the importance of
Christians keeping their commitments. I will never understand why
some Christians feel compelled to use fear rather than love when they
try to motivate people. I think it reflects a really warped view of the
God we know in Jesus.
Picture of Mom with cat
Like my mother told me when I was a kid, you never really know what’s
going on inside of people who are abusive. I was puzzled when she
reached out to me last year – eight years after we had last worked
together – to ask if we could meet for lunch. In the course of our time
together she told me that her mother had recently died, and that she
had departed this world with many regrets. She felt compelled to
apologize for the way she had treated me during the time she was my
boss. I got the impression she had carried a heavy load of regrets in
relation to the way she had treated me. By apologizing to me she was
trying to be set free from the burden of those regrets. You never know
the way God is working in peoples’ lives.
3 Weeks after I was laid off, I got a job at a local hospital in a lab where
many of the employees were undereducated and under skilled and I
was immediately targeted when I started. The doctors liked my work
and never had to ask me to repeat anything. My coworkers did not like
this. They would frequently hide samples and hide requests making it
difficult for me to do my job. The lab manager was a fundamentalist
Christian and seemed to enjoy the chaos of the infighting in the lab.
One of the doctors there advised me to keep my sexual orientation to
myself as it would only add ammunition to my coworkers. It stunned
me that being honest about my sexual orientation would mean fearing
getting fired.
One day, a woman who disliked me very much decided to hide all of the
patient test requests. When she was leaving for the day, I saw her
place the requests in the drop off bin. I was not able to complete the
work before I was to punch out. The next morning the woman who
caused the delay made a complaint to the lab manager. I was
subsequently scolded for not doing my job and forced to apologize for
something I did not do. I knew then that I had better get another job,
or these people would team up and get me fired. All of my coworkers
claimed to be Christian, yet they were letting their insecurities cause
them to lie, cheat, and delay samples, all of which could contribute to
errors in patient diagnosis. This is not the Christian integrity I have
been taught.
Picture of Darryl and I
I don’t know if I would have been able to make it through those years if
I did not have the love and support of my friends, family, and Darryl and
the foundations I had growing up in our church. I have been fortunate
enough to find my current job, which is the best I have had. I feel very
secure to be myself. My company values diversity and has a phrase “Be
your authentic self”
Picture of work
While preparing for this sermon, I came across an article by Bill
Browning entitled “Why do so many Christians oppose everything
Christ supported”
Hypocritical religious leaders are hardly a new breed. In the Bible, Jesus
reserved his harshest words for Pharisees – the equivalent of certain
modern day fundamentalist ministers who seem intent on promoting
hate and division more than living out the love of Christ. Christ
condemned them as “snakes,” “blind guides,” and a “brood of vipers”
for using their influence to condemn instead of teaching peace and
love. Instead of lifting others up, they chose to make life difficult for
the poor, women, and minority groups.
In Matthew 23, he is quoted as saying, “Woe to you, teachers of the
law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,
which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the
bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the
outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full
of hypocrisy and wickedness.” They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads
and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not
willing to lift a finger to move them.”
As a Gay person, I can tell you that this is how many people in the
LGBTQ community experience a certain form of Christianity.
Picture of Pope Francis
I was heartened when Pope Francis arrived on the scene. Here was a
man who was trying to follow in the path of Jesus, focusing on humility
and love and not on condemnation.
In 2018
Pope Francis told Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man and one of the Chilean
survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church that “God loves you like
this”. The Pope was criticized for being a heretic and Juan Carlos Cruz
was ATTACKED for SUPPOSEDLY misinterpreting what the Pope said.
In 2020, Pope Francis repeated his comments.
Gerard O’Connell
America, the Jesuit Review
Pope Francis told a group of parents of L.G.B.T. children yesterday that
“God loves your children as they are” and “the church loves your
children as they are because they are children of God.” He did so in a
brief encounter with some 40 Italian parents (both mothers and
fathers) of L.G.B.T. children.
According to one of the mothers account of the conversation, she told
Francis, “We wish to create a bridge to the church so that the church
too can change its way of looking at our children, no longer excluding
them but fully welcoming them.”
Having listened carefully to what she said, Pope Francis reassured her,
“The church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply.”
She revealed that “for many years I was like a blind person. After I came
to know that my son was homosexual, I suffered a lot because the rules
of the church made me think that he was excluded from the love of
God. Nobody helped me.”
Quote from Pope Francis
“Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own
fruit; the sun does not shine on itself; and flowers do not spread
their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of
nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how
difficult life is……life is good when you are happy; but much better
when others are happy because of you.
I think we need to let the love of Christ come back into our hearts, and
stop tearing each other down. We need to start putting the pieces of
the body back together, to work together and build each other up and
cheer each other on, even when we disagree.
I started with some song lyrics and I wanted to leave you with some
lyrics. This is a song I have wanted to sing for a while, but could never
find the music. I play this over and over in my mind as a part of my
conscious, similar to the phrase What Would Jesus Do?
Instead of fear, instead of blinded eyes
Instead of shame, instead of all my lies
Instead of an orphan without a name
I hope you see Jesus
Instead of anger, instead of unbelief
Instead of weakness in the heart of me
Instead of a wounded soul that sometimes loses faith
I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see Jesus
Standing in my place
Bearing all my shame
I hope you see Jesus
Instead of voices in a faceless crowd
Instead of prophets crying out from behind a shroud
Instead of fingers pointing out the blame
I, I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see Jesus
Standing in my place
Bearing all my shame
I, I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see love
I hope you see love
I hope you see love
Oh my God, when You look on us
A broken people who have turned from love
Instead of the words we throw and the wars we wage
I, I hope You forgive us, I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see Jesus
I hope you see Jesus
Standing in our place
Bearing all our shame
I hope you see Jesus
Standing in my place
Bearing all my shame
I hope you see Jesus
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Bebo Norman / Story Laura Mixon