You may remember that story a while back about a bakery in Colorado that wouldn’t sell a wedding cake to a gay couple because, the baker claimed, it was against his Christian faith.
Not surprisingly the dispute went to court and last Friday a judge finally ruled that despite the baker’s claim of First Amendment protection, he did, in fact, have to serve the couple because commercial activity is subject to state discrimination laws.
Constitutional debate aside, here’s the thing about that bakery that won’t serve a gay couple…
Serving a gay couple isn’t against his Christian faith.
But not serving them is.
In Matthew 25 Jesus describes the final judgment scene in which he asks a series of questions of the potential entrants to heaven.
Among those questions – “I was hungry, did you feed me?”
Confused because they never actually met Jesus in the flesh, the righteous respond to him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?” To which Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
In other words, when those who have been marginalized by society, to say nothing of their marginalization in the church, come to the place where you make food and you deny them that food, you don’t just have a problem with the law, you have a problem with grace.
Sure, this couple wasn’t starving on the side of the road, but that’s irrelevant for Jesus and not just because he puts no qualifications on the context of our opportunities to extend grace.
It’s irrelevant because Christ calls us to extend grace not just to the needy, but to everyone – “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
And that includes our enemies - “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that…But love your enemies, do good to them, and give to them without expecting to get anything back.”
It’s easy to pick on this one baker, and he should be held accountable for his actions, but the truth is this sort of antipathy and antagonism towards our enemies is an epidemic in the church, particularly in American evangelicalism wherein Christians have become known more for what they’re against and who they won’t associate with than how they actively incarnate the love and grace of God to a lost of dying world.
Which is why this story of a bakery that won’t serve gay couples is really just symptomatic of a deeper problem that nearly all of us in the church suffer from – a lack of real, genuine, embodied love.
More often than not, love for enemies has become something we merely affirm intellectually, not something we actually incarnate with our lives.
Worse yet, many of us in the church are embracing this sort of us vs. them mentality as a bizarre form of persecution in which the response of the faithful must be to fight the enemy so the church can remain pure.
It’s a battle we see fought daily on a number of different fronts.
And it’s about as anti-Christ as you can possible get.
Which means if you want to fight for the constitutional freedom to deny grace to your enemies or the least of these for whatever reason you deem necessary, you can.
But know that it’s not gay couples or liberals or Republicans or Muslims or fundamentalists or the poor or immigrants you’re fighting against.
Grace and Peace,