Today I was called a bigot that hates gays. Actually Michael and I both get to claim that insult. The person flinging it didn't mean to call us names. He just didn't realize that the group he felt justified in stereotyping accidentally included us. And we happened to be there. In the same Sunday school class. Right across the table from him. The group we belong to? The one that makes us automatically gay haters?
Yep. That's it. Anglicans. (Such a dirty word, don't you think?)
Problem is, the stereotype doesn't fit. In fact, it is the opposite of the truth. Because the Anglican church we still claim as home teaches about loving each person as made by God in the image of God. We all fall short; we all walk around as sinners; we all need God's redeeming love. It teaches focusing on Christ. The issue of gays? Well now, that's left up to debate amongst the members. Some might say that being gay is a sin, while others might give genetics all the credit. They'd go on to state that there's no sin in God's initial creation. But everybody, no matter the person's opinion or sexuality, gets God's love. And no matter the debate of what is sin, all are to focus on Christ. On being Christ to each other.
Michael looked across the table at the man after I explained to him that he was actually insulting us. We were, in fact, Anglican. He had that "deer in headlights" look for a moment before he recovered. We went on to point out we didn't really care what name a church had. We cared what they claimed as their focus. As their mission statement. We cared about Christ being the center of the church. Any church. Especially the one we chose for worship. He looked at us with skepticism as he said he couldn't imagine a church NOT being Christ centered.
Should we go there?
Michael simply pointed to the framed drawing of Christ hanging in the room. And then Michael said, "I am here for Him. I am not making a political statement with my presence. I am not making any statement with my presence. I am here for Him. Just Him. It's all about Him."
That guy. The one that called us a bigot, had to leave because he was the reader of the scriptures for the next service. But the whole conversation made me wonder how many times assumptions and stereotypes I make, whether voiced out loud or merely thought in my mind, fall as far from the truth as today's did.
How am I focusing on being Christ to others? How am I the hands and feet of Jesus? How am I judging others unfairly? Am I a part of a healthy branch on God's vine or am I a part of a diseased one?
Anyway, all this to say, you gotta love Sunday school....well....
and maybe one or two bigots.
.....At least Jesus did.