I went to a liberal seminary.
It was a difficult journey of navigating through everything I grew up with and all the new (and different) information I was learning.
I’ve always told people going into seminary that each of their professors wield the Mjolnir and smashes every conceived and preconceived notions they entered seminary with.
There’s really two options on how we move forward.
The first is, picking up the old pieces and placing them together with the new information we gained and have our theology remolded.
The other option is to pick everything up and placed them back exactly how it was — triply reinforcing the pieces with gorilla glue.
One of my biggest struggles in seminary were the gay students that were there.
I didn’t know how to reconcile what I’ve been taught growing up with what I was learning and, more importantly, experiencing.
It became incredibly difficult to ignore the cognitive dissonance that was blaring in my head when the gay students were modeling their faith in a way that was admirable and desirable.
But the Bible says….! is the phrase that my conscious kept returning to.
Then I found a quote attributed to Billy Graham that helped (at least me) to put everything in perspective: It’s God’s job to judge; it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict; it’s my job to love.”
From that moment on, I decided that I was going to do what I’m called to do — love my neighbor.
Admittedly this began as a “I’ll tolerate them” mentality; a “I’ll love them from afar” type of love.
But here’s what loving your neighbor does: it compels you to get to know them; their stories; their names; to be in communion and community with them; to see their humanity; to see the image of God within them.
The way Jesus commanded us to love cannot be done from afar.
It’s an up close, personal, intimate kind of love that sheds labels and compels you to see their humanity, dignity, and the Imago Dei.
From that point on, the idea of this exclusive God and faith began to fade away.
I started seeing God as one who transcends borders, boundaries, and labels.
I started seeing a God who continues to drag humanity into a future that is bigger, wider, and more inclusive than we could ever imagine (or want, for that matter).