by: Jordan Magill
On the last day of June 2018, I celebrated Pride month by coming out to the world as bisexual via social media post, and the aftermath of that decision has shaped the last year of my life, for better and for worse. Indeed, it's been a year full of encouragement, hope, trauma, pain and confusion, often all at the same time. Almost everyone in my life has been so tender with me, so affirming and lovely. But not quite everyone. In certain circumstances, certain circles, I met resistance. Fear. Shame. And it’s really messed with me.
In fact, a question has plagued me in the time since I’ve come out, sparked by hard conversations and suddenly-strained relationships: is God’s love still for me? Am I still included in His family?
To quote gay Christian writer Jeff Chu: "Does Jesus really love me?"
My gut says yes. The first idea I ever learned about God was that He loved me, that I was unconditionally, radically, holistically embraced by the Source of all love and light in the universe. My entire Christian worldview was built on the bedrock of that one promise: God would never withhold His love from me. Even when I stumble, even when I persist in rebellion, God’s feelings for me do not change. Even if I were to turn my back and walk away, God’s love would chase after me (surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life, Psalm 23:6). A few other, less helpful ideas have cluttered my understanding of God in the years since that first beautiful promise, but none of them ever managed to totally crowd it out.
Yet now, I find myself occupying a Christian world that feels suddenly hostile, fixed against me. Where once I was the golden boy, an object of praise and adoration for my mentors, pastors and peers, I am now a source of speculation, rumor, and scorn. A persona non grata. I never got to occupy any middle space. I was the best example of young Christian character until I was suddenly the worst. And all because I told the truth. I stood my ground and told the world about feelings I have always carried, ones I did not ask for and which God has not seen fit to change. I said what was true (and only that), and it has won me a thousand awkward conversations and a steady buzz of rumors that surround me at all times.
Have you heard about Jordan? Pity, right? Him? Never would’ve guessed. Bummer.
How could I possibly maintain that simple belief in God’s loves for me when so many of my siblings in Christ now found me fundamentally wanting? When some of the same folks who once encouraged and affirmed me now ignored me, or worse, gossiped about me rather than talking to me? It has all been so incredibly disorienting, and at the end of the day has revealed how much of my self-worth was wrapped up in the opinions of church people to begin with. Turns out, I have been performing acceptability for these people for my entire Christian life, and have a dim sense of my own worth and identity apart from their validation.
It has taken much time, and prayer, to sort it all out. That’s part of why I spent the last six months away from church, to suss out God’s voice from the critical voices around me. It’s been… rough, to say the least.
And yet, here I find myself having survived the worst of it (God willing), happy to report that a few key things have remained true: I love my friends and they love me. I love my Lord. I love His Gospel. And most importantly: Jesus loves me.
All the time I’ve passed in prayer and contemplation over the last year, all the hours spent poring over the Scriptures, clamoring for wisdom and guidance, have brought me full circle, right back to where I began: If God is real, and God is good, and God is love, as Scripture promises (1 John 4:8), then God loves me.
God’s love is so much bigger than we give it credit for. God’s love always draws a wider circle, always includes more of those on the margins, those we love to exclude or forget. The widows and the orphans, the hungry, the poor, the prisoners, the “least of these” (Matthew 25:45).
It is a heresy, a grave error of belief, to put limits on God’s love, to drive God’s beloved outside our homes, churches and communities. In fact, when we cast our unloved from our midst, pushing them outside the city gates, we ought remember that Christ is there waiting for them. His own love already impelled him there when, on the day of his crucifixion, Christ became the rejected one, suffering outside the city for our sake (Hebrews 13:12).
So, does Jesus love me? Of course He does. I am, after all, made in God's image, and immeasurably valuable. I have a heart full of love to give, and a story worth telling. I am precious, not only to my God but to my family, my friends, and my community. I am loved beyond my wildest imaginings.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.
Posted with permission. Original found here.