God Loves You. No Exceptions. On His Terms.

By Tom Gilson Published on April 9, 2017

The other day I saw a banner hanging on a church that read, “God loves you. No exceptions. The Episcopal Church welcomes you.”

It’s disturbing to see the truth used to deceive.

For, while the message is true as far as it goes, there’s another message hidden in that “welcome.” The Episcopal Church has taken a strong stand in favor of homosexuality. Episcopals in the U.S. have ordained a non-celibate gay bishop, in defiance of the worldwide Anglican communion the church is a member of. In 2012, they authorized a “rite of blessing for same-gender relationships,” and three years later they “made the rite of marriage available to all people, regardless of gender.” The Episcopal Church is all in for same-sex marriage.

Half-truths make the most successful deceits. This banner says something more between the lines more than it should say; it also leaves out something that belongs there. There’s more to following Christ than the Episcopal Church lets on. All are welcome, but on His terms, not ours.

Welcome to Follow, on His Terms

Jesus Christ always set the conditions for following Him. The gospels give us example upon example. Two people came and said they wanted to follow Him. Jesus answered (in effect), “Here’s how: don’t delay, come now, and don’t expect it to be easy.” (Matt. 8:18-22)

Another young man asked how to receive eternal life, and Jesus told him to sell all he had, give to the poor, and then follow Him. (Mark 10:17-22)

After Jesus fed the 5,000, many of them followed him until He brought up some hard things in His teachings. People started drifting away; He responded by teaching harder things. Even more left Him then. Finally He asked the Twelve if they would leave, too. Peter answered, “To whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:60-69). All were welcome, but they had to accept His teaching.

Coming Into the Church, on His Terms

This, by the way, is the same Peter who had seen Jesus perform a great miracle and responded, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” Jesus called him to follow anyway, along with the rest of the Twelve. (Luke 5:1-11). As always, though, it was on His terms: “Follow me,” He said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:14-19). It was His call, His initiative, His plan: His terms.

Jesus wants to lift us above our pains, losses and sin — into the true life of loving fellowship with Himself.

So yes, Jesus welcomed everyone. But He was firm about the conditions. He pointedly excluded people who wanted to set their own terms. Following our Lord’s example, the Apostle Paul even told one church to exclude a man on account of his unrepentant life of sexual sin. (1 Cor. 5:1-8)

God loves you. No exceptions. All are welcome — on His terms.

His Terms are Loving

Leaders of the Episcopal Church have that decided God’s terms are too narrow. They forget what Jesus did in His Sermon on the Mount: He tightened the standards, up to and including, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:21-48). Almost everyone admires that statement as the high moral teaching it is; few think it was unloving on His part. To loosen His standards is to turn away from His perfect goodness.

Does this seem harsh? Only if we deny that our Creator has the wisdom to love us in a way that fits how He designed us.

Jesus also said,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)

In context of His whole teaching, though, it’s clear that He wasn’t lowering the standard of righteousness. He was promising to carry it for us instead.

His standard is good. It’s neither harsh nor unloving, even for LGBT people. Same-sex attraction is not the “gay” experience gays want us to think it is — or even, I’m convinced, as they want to convince themselves it is. Jesus wants to help carry LGBT persons’ pain, but He doesn’t do it by saying, “Whatever you want to do is fine with Me.” He does it the same way He does for all of us in our own sufferings and failures: by giving us grace and forgiveness as we turn away from our sin to look toward Him instead.

Jesus wants to lift us above our pains, losses and sin — into the true life of loving fellowship with Himself. Churches that tell LGBT people there’s no need to confess or repent actually do them harm by cutting them off from that light yoke of His.

God doesn’t exclude LGBT people. He only says to them, as He does to all, “You are welcome to come — on My terms.” His body, the Church, is subject to those same conditions. We are in no position to change God’s terms for Him.

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  • Autrey Windle

    Best article on the truth I may have ever read. Thank you!

  • ImaginaryDomain

    Thanks Tom. Yet another example of the truism of our faith: being Christian is simple, not easy, but simple.

  • Christian Cowboy

    AMEN!!

  • m-nj

    Romans 1:32 – Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    Matthew 18:6 – “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

    Matthew 15:14 – “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

  • Philmonomer

    The other day I saw a banner hanging on a church that read, “God loves you. No exceptions. The Episcopal Church welcomes you.”

    It’s disturbing to see the truth used to deceive.

    Imagine you were a Southern Baptists in 1852. Imagine you saw a sign hanging from a Baptist church in the North that said:

    “God loves you. No exceptions. We welcome all.”

    Imagine you knew that sign meant the church welcomed Runaway slaves, and would not turn them in, but help them.

    This exact same article that is written here could then follow.

    • Jenn Erich

      Your analogy is false. It would be more accurate if you said the church welcomed slaveholders. Choosing to act on same-sex attraction is NOTHING like being enslaved by other human beings and to compare them as you did, is insulting and a deception. God loves people. God does not love people’s sin.

      • Philmonomer

        My analogy is not false. Choosing to run away from your master is a choice that was clearly against the Bible.

        • Royce E. Van Blaricome

          Yes it is. For the reasons I stated above.

        • Philmonomer, haven’t we already had this conversation elsewhere? I would think you would at least have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that you’ve heard reasons to think it’s nowhere near so simplistic. Even if you don’t agree with the biblical thinking on this topic, you’re hiding your head in the sand by pretending it doesn’t even exist!

          I’d be embarrassed to try that in public.

          • Philmonomer

            Philmonomer, haven’t we already had this conversation elsewhere?

            I don’t think so. But maybe I’m wrong. Could you point me to where?

        • Jenn Erich

          Huh? The bible tells slaves not to run away? What translation is that?

          • Philmonomer

            New Testament letters forcefully instruct slaves to obey their masters (Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22-24, 1Tim 6:1-2, 1Pet 2:18, Titus 2:9-10).

          • Jenn Erich

            “Slaves” in New Testament times were indentured servants.

          • Philmonomer

            Some were, some weren’t. However, the New Testament passages that instruct slaves to obey their masters don’t distinguish between the two.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            He’s right on that but, like before, there is a whole lot more to it than just leaving it there. Don’t have time to address it all here so suffice it to say it, like most other things, is a matter of faith. How big is your God?

      • Royce E. Van Blaricome

        Philmonomer has just done exactly what the Episcopal church did. His analogy is a half truth. It is so because he draws a parallel between the Slavery of the Bible and that of the USA. It is not the same.

        He also fails to tell the whole truth in what God says IF it were the same and Paul shows us that with Philemon. Paul certainly welcomed Onesimus and then having no doubt taught Onesimus the lesson of 1st Peter 2, he sent him back to Philemon and asked Philemon to accept Onesimus as a Brother.

        Somehow they always neglect to mention that part.

        • Philmonomer

          My reply to you has been “pending” for 2 days. I guess it is doomed to pending purgatory.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Perhaps. I just hope you don’t end up with it there.

          • Philmonomer

            I can’t tell if this is a joke or not. (Humor. So hard on the internet.) At any rate, I laughed. So thanks for that.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Well, since there is no such thing as Purgatory, it was said somewhat in jest.

  • Royce E. Van Blaricome

    Well said!

  • Ruth

    True indeed!

  • Tom, this is SO well spoken. I find it terribly irritating that we have reached a point in western society where it is just accepted (unchallenged) that if I disagree with you on a specific issue, I am “hating” on you. That is simply not the case at all.

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