Why are these two issues such defining issues in the eyes of those watching us? Maybe it's because we haven't always let love guide our speech or our actions and because we've mostly ignored so many other important issues within our society. If only we have the same passion for justice and fought as hard against poverty, homelessness, and for the well-being of single parents and their children; if we challenged unjust laws and challenged our politicians to really focus on protecting the oppressed, thinking of those who have no voice and helping them be heard. How would people then begin to see us? What if we really acted justly, loved mercy and walked humbly with God?
Imagine if we focused on our responsibility to make our world a better place, a little more like the kingdom Jesus is bringing in, instead of insisting on making the world exactly as we determine it should be, as if we are really that wise anyway. Just look at how hard it is for many people in our churches to get along with each other. Maybe we should concentrate more on first changing ourselves through the help of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps if we took seriously Paul's words to the Colossians to "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity"
It is not our place to change someone, that is the work of God; our place is to show others how God has changed and is changing us and to walk alongside them, allowing the Holy Spirit work through our love and grace and acceptance. When we are truly changed by God's Spirit, we are then a witness to what God's kingdom stands for and this will define who we are as we have then been shaped by God's love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, acceptance and a healthy sense of responsibility instead of privilege.
Just thinking out loud here.