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Chick-fil-a Day in Retrospect

Yesterday I had dinner with my family and a close friend at Chick-fil-a. For those of you that didn’t know, Mike Huckabee started a Facebook event encouraging people to support the company on August first in response to Boston, Chicago and San Francisco attempting to prevent them from coming to their cities based on the “anti-gay” statement of Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-a.

“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”

When the Baptist Press asked Cathy about his statement he responded, “Guilty as charged…[we’re] supportive of the family–the biblical definition of the family unit.”

After much controversy and anti-gay allegations against Chick-fil-a and it’s president, the mayor of Boston publicly announced that the company would not be allowed to place stores in his city because of their supposed discrimination against gays. However, Chick-fil-a is an equal opportunity employer and have openly hired gays as well as happily served them chicken without discrimination of any sort. In fact, the only thing that Chick-fil-a will not do is serve gays, or anyone else, beef.

Everyone seems to be missing the point. GLBT civil rights have by no means been violated. But Dan Cathy and his company have constitutional rights too. And those rights to free speech have been pushed aside for the sake of politicians’ approval ratings. That is the injustice that so many attended “Support Chick-fil-a Day” for. Why else would the ACLU make an official statement supporting Chick-fil-a’s right to locate in Boston or other cities?

I’m more concerned with how those of us with moral opinions about sexuality have been labeled “haters.” Disagreement does not constitute hatred. Those who call us haters often argue that morality is relative to the person and we have no right to push our morality on to others, but calling us haters based on their own moral standards is somehow not pushing personal morals on others? Just to be clear, this is an overgeneralization, there are people who hate gays and there are gays who don’t believe in moral relativism. And those people who hate gays unfortunately all too often claim to be christian. Besides, the only hate I experienced personally throughout this whole thing was someone running in and out of the store shouting expletives at people standing in line. Not exactly a gay-hater.

What I did see was a protester outside the restaurant: customers and employees brought free food and drinks to him. This is behavior fitting the church, and i was so happy to see that love in action. This is what Jesus did, he spent his time with those who needed him, not people who agreed with him. Sure, not everyone liked what he had to say, and those that didn’t left, but Jesus never ran anyone off. Truth separates the innocent from the guilty. We are all guilty and that makes truth hard to swallow, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Jesus came to offer forgiveness, not condemn, but he didn’t soften the truth either.

How will you represent Jesus in this difficult, hot button issue where people believe that God hates gays?

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Drive for Space

Even when the atmosphere seems perfect, the musicians nail every note and the congregation seems to connect with the music I have sometimes found myself getting very little out of worship.

What I could recognize was that something important was missing, but it escaped me as I went down my “all-is-well” check list to make sure everything was just right. Then it struck me: I was the common denominator.

The thing I was looking for, the thing that was missing in worship was me. Sure, I was physically there, but amidst all the rehearsals and preparation to lead others in worship I forgot to bring myself into worship. But what does that look like? How do we show up to worship as we ask others to do each week?

In order to lead by example we must understand what steps we must take to bring ourselves before God in worship. The act of worship is a transaction with God, or an exchange rather than just an encounter. I mean, what do we expect from an encounter with God? We can’t encounter him without getting something from it. Likewise, we can’t receive anything unless we give up what we are already carrying. If our hearts don’t show up and we don’t let go of every circumstance, worry or private sin then we will leave worship unchanged, unaware of the presence of God in our lives and slaves of our own desires.

In defensive driving you are taught to “drive for space.” The concept is simple in theory but often hard to execute. If we concentrate on not  hitting the car next to us then all we see is that car and we tend to go where we are looking. Instead, focusing on the empty space around us keeps us off the collision course with large or immovable objects. This principle is emphasized in scripture, especially regarding temptations. For example, Paul tells Timothy to flee youthful lusts and instead pursue purity and righteousness. It’s not enough to just sit there and resist sin because that sin is all we will think about. Instead we have to acknowledge the temptation and give it up to focus on Christ.

That focused pursuit of Christ is best described as worship. That is how we need to show up in worship.

Let go of everything so that you can take hold of Him.