Left behind (not that kind of left behind)

Inclusivity Devotional for October 10, 2021

This devotion was published first in the IGRC for Unity weekly email. IGRC for Unity is a group of Illinois United Methodists who have rejected the Traditional Plan for the United Methodist Church and are working to create a United Methodist Church that is truly open to all. These devotionals will be taken from a text from the Revised Common Lectionary, and will often have a theme of inclusion and welcome.

Revised Common Lectionary Reading: Mark 10:17-31

Jesus said, “I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment)—and in the coming age, eternal life.”

Today I wonder how many LGBTQ kids have walked away from their homes. How many were forced out? How many have “left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms” because they simply wanted to live their lives as truthfully as possible?

I want to ponder that for a moment before we go any farther with this passage. How many young people were forced out of their homes because of their parents’ misunderstanding of Scripture? How many young people are forced to live a lie and dwell in anxiety and darkness because of how they were created by God. How much good news has been quieted by those who think they are following Jesus?

Before we get caught up in figuring out how to get a camel through the eye of the needle (spoiler alert: there was no such gate in Jerusalem called “the eye of the needle.” That story was a total fabrication to make people more comfortable with Jesus’ harsh message in this passage), before we wrestle over the nature of “obtaining eternal life,” before we wonder if Jesus was talking to just one rich man or to all of us, I want us pause and think of those who have “left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news.”

There are thousands of brave, courageous, faithful gay, lesbian, and transgendered people who refused to lie about themselves and who have remained with Jesus. Their faith is an inspiration. They have been shamed, beaten, called names, and outcast by people who claim to love them. Yet they remain faithful to Jesus because of the good news.

This morning I stand in awe of my brave siblings in Christ who, as Peter said, “left everything and followed you.” No pastor, no institution, no Book of Discipline, no misunderstanding of a few verses of the Bible, and no reprimanding parent can keep them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

I pray that you receive one hundred times as much as you have left behind. I pray that you receive truth, grace, affirmation, mission, and community. The eternal life of Christ is one of depth, meaning, joy, and peace that surpasses all understanding, and I hope you receive it all. I am thankful for the places and communities who have welcomed you. I pray for your search if you have not yet found a such a place. I believe Jesus’ promise that you will receive it. I am inspired by your faith. I will keep working for you, preaching for you, and praying for you.

Even as I search myself for the same eternal life, I remember that for humans, entering the Kingdom of God is as easy as a camel passing through the eye of the needle, but with God all things are possible. Thanks be to God.

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Filed under IGRC for Unity, Lectionary Reflection

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