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Sharing in Faith: I had to trust God’s word

The Rev. Kenneth Levingston

The Rev. Kenneth Levingston
Photo courtesy of Jones Memorial Communications Ministry.

In my early years, I lived a life that had the appearance of discipleship, and yet my life was devoid of true contrition, repentance and godliness.

I attended church every Sunday and could be counted on to participate in myriad ministries and church activities.

I was absolutely certain that Jesus loved me, but I had multiple areas of my life that were not in line with the word and will of God.

I rationalized my behavior, by saying, “That no longer applies to me; God’s grace is enough.” Or I fell back on my favorite, “God knows my heart.”

Among the demons with which I struggled was the misuse of my sexuality and the distortion of this sacred and good gift from God.

I grew up in a community where participating in promiscuous activities was a badge of honor to be celebrated among my peers.

The church accepted my behavior by practicing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Everything was going fine except there was a war raging in my heart, and my soul was dying. I was living a life that asked God to conform to my sense of morality.

I finally asked myself, “Who am I? Is my relationship with Jesus truly genuine; am I committed to following him and denying anything and anyone starting with me?”

I then came to a place in my life where I understood I had to absolutely trust that God knows what’s best for me. I could no longer rely on opinion polls or media-driven outcomes to determine what I believe or how I was to behave. The word of God alone was to be trusted.

I finally understood that when my mind, experiences and even my traditions are contrary to the clear, consistent witness of Scripture, I had to choose the witness of Scripture and trust the Holy Spirit to give me the capacity to live into God’s will.

I served for 30 years as a local preacher in rural, urban, suburban, and multicultural settings. During that time, I preached to, prayed with and wept with members and nonmembers of just about every sexual persuasion imaginable.

I loved them and extended to them not just my time and presence, but more importantly, I shared the assurance of Jesus’ love for them –– a love that will never let them go.

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I also told them that God’s unshakeable love is not a pass to do whatever we want.

In cases where single heterosexual adults were engaged in sexual relationships outside of marriage, I invited them to consider whether their walk was in harmony with the word and will of God.

Many continued the same conduct, but not a single one ever said, “I believe God is pleased with my conduct.”

When people who struggle with same-sex attractions and conduct came to me, I invited them to consider questions about what is pleasing to God. I can’t imagine the torment and the pain they went through as they honestly tried to answer the questions.

I seek to be the best pastor I can be, without compromising the clear word that God’s design for living out our sexuality is within the bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

At the heart of our struggle is whether the Bible is authoritative for our lives. Are we a people of the Book only when it says what we want to hear?

I am so grateful that Jesus would not leave me where he found me. I believe there is no struggle, no attraction or orientation or cultural shift that is stronger than God’s determination to reconcile the world to God’s self.

In my own life I am reminded daily of Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The Rev. Kenneth Levingston
Houston, Texas

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Posted August 21, 2014