If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20
Why do people who aren't Christians hate us? They look at us and say, "You're just a bunch of Bible thumpers who are homophobic and you don't love anybody." We've brought that on ourselves. I don't think we're showing the love of Jesus. Gay people are asking for equal rights under the law, and we've got Christians saying "God hates you." I get so angry because that's not true! God loves you! Jesus walks with the gay community! I think Jesus says, "I love you just as I love someone who is not gay. I love you as a human being. I just love you."
I had homophobia. I know what that's like. But I was wrong to fear like that. God reached deep within my heart and changed me. Now I have gay friends and colleagues. There is no difference between us. Gay people are human beings, and I'm going to love on them just as God told me to love all human beings. God told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Maybe if more of us did that, Christians wouldn't be so hated everywhere we go.
Do we love our neighbors as ourselves? A buddy pointed out to me that we've built backyard fences, and we no longer build porches. Is it because we don't want to love our neighbor as ourselves? Here's what our fences say: We want to be in our own area. Don't look at me, don't talk to me, don't speak to me, leave me alone.
Where are the front porches, where people come over and have lemonade, hang out and talk, enjoy each other, and just be in community? We've gone so far away from that.
Churches need to quit going out 15 miles from a city, buying a big chunk of land, building a humongous church, and then telling people, "Come to us." What is that? That doesn't make sense! The Church needs to go to where the people are, and then love on them. We need to be with people wherever they are and wherever they hurt, because that's where Jesus is.
Jesus said, "You call me a drunk and a glutton because I hang with sinners. I hang in the bars, I hang in the slums, and I eat with people that aren't your people." He told the religious leaders, "You guys think you're so great. I don't even want to hang out with you. I'd rather hang out with sinners." Sinners loved Jesus! But do sinners love Christians?
As Christians and as a Church, we have to change. We have got to start loving our neighbors. We have got to start setting the captives free. We have got to start feeding the poor. We have got to start loving. We need to be helping and providing. We should be the leaders in our communities for the simple reason that we just straight-out, flat-out love our neighbors.
Just think: we could be beacons of love.
Jeremy Affeldt is a pitcher for the three times in five years World Champion San Francisco Giants.
He is a philanthropist and co-founder of Generation Alive, a non profit that works to teach and inspire young leaders to serve others who are faced with extreme poverty. He is the author of To Stir A Movement, Life, Justice and Major League Baseball.
Follow on twitter @JeremyAffeldt and his non profit @GenerationAlive.