Welcome to my first official post on my new blog. It's weird (kinda) how this name came to me. I was in the shower and, like the scholar I am, I had a thought: "How does grace from God extend to the LGBT community?" And, here we are! If you've been a faithful follower of my blog www.coreywhiteee.blogspot.com, thanks for making the trip with me to my new "home on the internet!" I'm reserving www.coreywhiteee.blogspot.com solely for my coming out story. All of my previous blogs have been moved to drafts, and I have just my coming out story featured on my old domain. I believe that www.coreywhiteee.blogspot.com stands for an old, less-understanding, more legalistic, me-- my coming out story was where I feel my ministry became real to me, and that's all I've ever wanted to be on the internet and in life-- me.
I sat down a few minutes ago with my "black eye" espresso drink and my Message Bible. A " black eye" is as intense as it sounds-- medium-roasted coffee with two shots of espresso-- and if you say it fast enough, people think you're having a "black guy" for breakfast! Anyway, as I was flipping through the crisp pages of my newly-obtained Message Bible, I came across John 4: The Woman at the Well. Just thinking of this story and Jesus' compassion often moves me to tears, so I prayed for the Spirit to move as it pleased and to lead me into new understanding. Here's what happened...
John 4 starts off by the Pharisees "keeping score of baptisms done by Jesus and John," as Eugene Peterson says it. Jesus and his disciples were tired, but moved into Sychar, a Samaritan village, on their journey back to Galilee. Are you ready for what happens next?
"Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well."
I read this over, and over, and over, and OVER. I couldn't stop. Jesus, my Lord and Savior, my peace and understanding, was worn out by the trip.
Doesn't that sound a lot like how our journey can seem? To me, Jesus played a role in his human-life and ministry that many of us Christians can face. We become weary, we aren't sure where God is leading, and we simply just have to sit back and rest. This resting place was a place that even Jesus' disciples were confused about. Those of Jewish culture and background didn't simply "stop and rest" in a Samaritan village, but Jesus knew why he was there, and a greater purpose was in store.
John 4:7-9 describes a Samaritan woman who came to draw water from the well, and Jesus asks her, a woman who is adulterous and, quite frankly, deemed as Sychar's whore, for a drink of water. She questioned why Jesus would even ask her for a drink given their very different backgrounds and cultural rules.
What cultural rules do we face and fight within the Christian church that actually hurt more than they help to show love? Think of the people who are marginalized: ethnicities, denominations, sexualities, genders, broken-families... The list goes on and on. The voice of culture is hurting how the church operates and how they can truly be, the church. Church, who are we fighting for?
I love John 4:10. Let these words be taken in like a sponge.
"Jesus answered, 'If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink and I would give you fresh, living water.'"
Jesus had an outreach- a greater purpose that not even his 12 closest friends knew. He sat at the well with a purpose. He was tired, but he knew that someone else needed the life that was within him. Where today, whether energetic or weary in your ministry, can you help someone who doesn't know the love of Jesus? Jesus wasn't afraid of the awkward stares, cultural differences, or "social norms," he broke all of them that day at the well. Church, are we ready to "break social norms" and move into a place of just solely loving and caring for others?
Jesus gives life-- refreshing, unending, radical-- life. John 4:13-14 says, "Jesus said, 'Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst -- not ever. The water I give will be an artisan spring within, gushing fountains of endless life."
The description of the life Jesus gives made me so excited, but also upset with myself that I become so burdened with life's tasks and hurts. I neglect the life and love that overflows within me. Jesus gave us all a life in so much abundance, yet we live in fear, doubt, and self-worthlessness. Before coming out, I began to fall into patterns of uneasiness, deep depression, and overwhelming anxiety. I put God's grace, love, acceptance, and image into a box on my mantle, and I told God that I wouldn't be returning until he sorted this "mess" out in my life. When we neglect God and His mighty character, we as Christians become weak and not able to withstand even the slightest of troubles and burdens. It makes me wonder what those who don't know the truth do, and it makes me want to scream from the mountaintops God's love, justice, and the cross-- WE ARE LOVED! Right where we are, we are loved. After going through a "David" phase, I looked back at the cross after weeks of running so far, and I asked God for self-acceptance, love, and peace. It came, and it came in a mighty way. God seems to do that-- He takes every expectation and radically blesses us with more than what our human hearts could even think of. Agape love is the love that I crave, and it only comes from Jesus. His love and blessings are overflowing today and everyday, even the bad ones!
In closing, let's look at John 4:23-24. The Message Bible completely changed my perspective on this verse, and I love how genuine and beautifully written it is. "'It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in worship. God is sheer being itself -- Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."
If you woke up, like I do many days of the week, pointing out every imperfection in the mirror and thinking about all of life's troubles that have yet to arise-- read that last verse over and over-- we've been radically saved, changed, and loved.
God wants us to simply be who He created us to be: ourselves.
Come to His throne boldly today. Come to Him with gratitude, with your burdens, and with your worship. Whatever you're bringing to the table today, bring it with authenticity and willingness to watch your life change. Whether you're struggling financially, within your relationships, with your marriage, with your job, with your sexuality, with your children... ANYTHING. Bring it before your God and know today that He brings clarity when the world brings hurt and disappointment. Many of the things we struggle with daily were never meant to be struggles. Embrace who you are and live a life authentically for your God. At the end of the day, you will answer for who you are on Judgement Day and I will answer for the life I lived. This whole "faith" thing can get messy sometimes, huh?
Live genuinely. Love radically. Speak boldly.
"'I am he,' said Jesus. 'You don't have to wait any longer or look any further.'" John 4:26 MSG
Come Lord Jesus, come. See that his living water is for you, and that he's sitting at the well.
Blessings in all your ways,
Prayer requests, burdens, questions, or figuring out the whole "faith vs. sexuality" thing? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!