As a Christian, when by God’s grace you have a successful business serving the public, I don’t know if it is wise to pick and choose who He places in your path to serve. Within reason, we are called to serve all people in love- especially those we may consider the “least of these”. Even those who we see as in opposition to us, we are told to “overcome them with good”.
I recently shared an article on my Facebook wall about Christian bakers in Oregon who “were forced to close their doors after not baking a cake for a lesbian couple.” This post created quite the debate on how a “true” Christian should respond. Here’s the post (click the “comments” link to read more):
It’s important to realize that discrimination based on sexual orientation has been illegal in Maine since 2005- many years before gay marriage became legal in 2012. A similar anti-discrimination law was enacted in Oregon in 2007, which is what the bakers are accused of violating.
But simply because it is illegal to discriminate shouldn’t be the only reason we as Christians would choose to serve these people. We live by a higher standard, and our service comes not just out of obligation, but also unconditional love.
Some of you reading this article may already be forming the opinion that I’m one of those “cheap grace” or liberal Christians. But I neither believe in “cheap grace”, and by society’s standards I am a conservative Christian (a label I wear proudly, all though labels are never helpful).
As I said in the above post, when you serve people it’s not about affirming their lifestyle. To borrow from one of the commenters on my post:
It’s about being able to look past the cloud of our emotions in order to love sacrificially.
Another commenter (the person most outspoken against my point of view) posed the question, “would you serve alcohol to a drunk?” His point of course being that it is not loving to persist a sin by tempting a person with their vice. But that analogy doesn’t add up because using that reasoning it would be more accurate to say a Christian baker shouldn’t serve cake to an obese person. And considering the prevalence of the sin of gluttony in the American church- well I suppose I shouldn’t go down that road…
Anyway, the real question to ponder is whether these Christian bakers would serve anyone?
Would they bake a cake for the baby shower of the unwed single mother?
Would they bake a cake for the wedding of the couple who has been living and sleeping together?
Would they bake a cake for the birthday party of an atheist neighbor, or the agnostic co-worker?
Are all non-Christian customers who have made life choices against their “personal beliefs” refused service?
Of course not, and they shouldn’t be!
All of the above “types” of people are those that these Christian bakers serve with love in the name of Christ with the desire to see them transformed by their Christian witness. My question is, why should the lesbian couple be refused this same Christian witness? It seems homosexuality is the one sin these bakers singled out as not worthy of their service because of the “cloud of emotions” preventing them from loving sacrificially.
This selfish love is what I want to see eliminated in the Christian Church. As a proud conservative Christian, I wholeheartedly believe everyone without Christ deserves the love of Christ to be served by those of us who call ourselves His ambassadors.
It is Christ-like to love and serve all people because we know none of us is without sin, no not one. It’s Pharisee-like to view ourselves as better than others and not like those other men, and choose who we do and do not serve. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
We will all someday stand before God and give an account of our lives. We should all strive to serve others unselfishly, with humility, and with a desire to see hearts change- even if that heart is our own. We never know whom we may be asked to serve- or who the stranger is we should be welcoming- for when Jesus comes to separate the sheep from the goats, may we not end up as a bunch of goats:
“32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’… (Matt 25:32-26)“