On April 28, the US Supreme court is scheduled to hear oral arguments regarding the legalizing of same sex marriage. National polls show that the majority of Americans now support marriage equality. Over the past decade public opinion has shifted from opposition to support. Surely one reason that many people have changed their minds is having a relationship with someone personally effected by the issue. As the stigma associated with homosexuality has decreased and more lgbt folks have come out of the closet, more of us have become educated in the most effective manner, through first-hand encounters. Like Peter, you may have come to an understanding that God has not made any unclean people but what really seals the deal is meeting a person who challenges you to put your money where your mouth is. Actually, my hunch is that most of us put the cart before the horse, we missed the revelation and learned our lessons being challenged by relationship. Regardless, one of the best ways to change is to meet your “Cornelius”
The thing about finding your Cornelius is that it probably means moving out of your comfort zone. It is normal to be surrounded by people who look and think like you. Homogeneous culture does not have to lead to rejection of those who are different, but sadly it does regularly entail just that for the sake of maintaining the status quo. So if you are going to start living into God’s realm of radical inclusion you may need to take some initiative in finding your Cornelius.
I’m convinced that this Great Convergence where former factions find their renewed common union by celebrating the combining of diverse gifts is both a challenge and a gift. God is leading us with that divine wild goose spirit into places we may not necessarily go ourselves where we will find the gifts we have either forgotten about or never knew we had. Discovering fellow believers with gifts we never considered or even knew existed is truly a gift. But there is a challenge in accepting the gifts from those people. You know, the ones we have been taught to reject because they believe the wrong things or worship the wrong way. Worse than simply avoiding the groups who are different from ours is the experience many of us have of needing to cross back over bridges that we attempted to burn. So many Christians today are in different camps than the ones they began the journey in because they have seen the flaws and moved on. What we need to remember are all the good that coexists with those less lovely parts. And unless we have removed all the mirrors from our new spiritual homes, we know that there are new and different blemishes on our new and different spiritual bodies as well.
If we are going to learn how to live as the one grand united yet amazingly diverse Body of Christ, we will have to spend a lot of time getting to know the Cornelius who may be nothing like anyone we have ever met before…or quite possibly very much like the person we once knew in the mirror and have to learn to love again.
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of Old South United Church of Christ, Kirtland, Ohio where Darkwood Brew is used as part of an effort to be the church beyond walls. He also has a YouTube channel of two-minute videos called Bible Bytes.