Jesus and Gender | Colossians 1:15-20

A Bible-Revering Church

Continuing the "A Bible-Revering Church", Dave Bruskas, Director of Re:Generation, talked about the challenge today regarding gender ideology within the church. He began by asking, “Who is Jesus to us?”, then worked towards understanding who we are as gendered people.

Dave BruskasJun 16, 2024Colossians 1:15-20

In This Series (10)
What Does the Bible Say About Contentment?
Luke FriesenJul 21, 2024
What Does the Bible Say About Ambition? | Mark 10:35-45
Kylen PerryJul 14, 2024
What Does the Bible Say About Money? | Ecclesiastes 5:10-6:6
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 7, 2024
What the Bible Says About Politics | Mark 12:13-17
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 30, 2024
What Does the Bible Say About Our Bodies? | 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 23, 2024
Jesus and Gender | Colossians 1:15-20
Dave BruskasJun 16, 2024
Marriage | Ephesians 5:22-33
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 9, 2024
Jesus and the Word | Matthew 15:1-9
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 2, 2024
The Markers of a Bible-Revering Person | Psalm 119:97-104
Jermaine HarrisonMay 26, 2024
The Word of Revival | Nehemiah 8
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 19, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Jesus is our meaning (Colossians 1:15-17; Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 1:18-23)
  • Jesus is our mission (Colossians 1:18; Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Jesus is our message (Colossians 1:19-20)

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • Are you finding meaning in Jesus? Is there any sin in your life that is keeping you from fully experience life and joy in Christ? Talk to your community group about what repentance looks like in this area.
  • Are you on mission? How can you grow in this area?
  • What can we do as a church to help those who are struggling today?
  • Christ-centered clarity is compassionate. Are we as a church offering clarity to those who are struggling? How can we grow in this area?
  • Christ-centered community is compassionate. Are we as a church offering community to those who are struggling? How can we grow in this area? For help, see The Prodigal ministry at Watermark.

Good morning, Watermark Church family and friends. If I haven't met you yet, my name is Dave Bruskas, and I serve here as the director of re:generation. Happy Father's Day. We have a lot of amazing dads in the room today. I was so thankful that my dad, who has been the most influential person in my life, was able to join us during the 9:00 service.

Another reason I'm deeply grateful for today is I have four daughters that God has gifted my wife and me with. We have one little boy who's in heaven with Jesus, four daughters, four sons-in-law, and soon-to-be eight grandchildren. So much to be thankful for. I'm so thankful they all look like their mom. They are too.

I got a text from a friend of mine who's a pastor in another city recently. He said, "Dave, call me as soon as you can." I sensed the urgency of that, and I picked up the phone and called him. He began to explain to me that he recently had found out through a businessman in his church that the student minister on his staff had called to reach out and find a new job. Oftentimes, in vocational ministry, that in and of itself is not unusual. A lot of times, people move out of vocational ministry and take other jobs for very good reasons.

I thought, "Okay. Well…" That church had a thriving student ministry, and that particular student minister was extremely gifted, extremely dynamic. I said, "Well, that's kind of a bummer, but I'll be praying." He said, "No, that's not the whole story." He found out from this businessman that the student minister who was applying for this role was presenting himself as a woman.

So, he set up a conversation, the student minister and the pastor together, and he was informed by this student minister that he was in the process of fully transitioning from a man to a woman. He would soon be leaving his marriage. He would be leaving the church. He was going to be relocating to another city. He had already found a church that would affirm him in his new status as a woman.

I could hear in the pain of my friend's voice the devastation he was experiencing with this news, and it made me realize, perhaps more poignantly than ever, that when we think about gender identity, that's not something that just happens outside these walls, outside of our community and culture. This is something we need to talk about in the church.

Today, we continue our series on what it means to be a Bible-revering church, and we are going to talk about Jesus and gender identity. I know you're thinking on Father's Day, "Oh, this is just great. Thanks, Dave." You're welcome. A church that reveres the Bible sees the Bible rightly, and to really understand the Bible you need to know that the Bible is not just a collection of stories about different people in different places; it's a singular story. It's the story of God and what he's doing to redeem a people for himself through Jesus.

The Bible isn't merely a collection of a thousand principles to live by; it's one person to live for, and his name is Jesus. So, if we're going to really understand what it means to be gendered human beings, if we're going to really understand what it means to be a male or a female created in the image of God, we must first ask the question…Who is Jesus to us? Then, from the answer we get from that question, we begin to understand who we were made to be. I'm so glad you're here today. Let's pray, and then we'll study the Bible together.

As is our practice here as we go to prayer, would you pray for yourself this morning? Whether this is a subject you're deeply interested in or you're indifferent toward, would you just pray that God would speak to you today? Would you now pray for those around you that, more than anything else, Jesus would be exalted this morning? Maybe you're aware of someone who's struggling with this issue or is hurting over this. Would you pray for them? Lastly, would you please pray for me that I would be clear and consistent with what the Scripture teaches?

Father, as we come to you today on this day that we celebrate fathers, we thank you that you're a good and perfect Father to us. It's a painful day for some, because perhaps the relationship with their dad is broken or perhaps their dad is no longer here. You're a perfect Father. You love us with all the acceptance and affection you have for your Son Jesus. So, Father, I pray for those who are discouraged today, for those who are hurting, for those who are grieving, that you would comfort them through the truth of your Word and the presence of your Holy Spirit.

Father, I pray that as we look at the Scripture together, you would open up our hearts that we may have a greater love and appreciation, that we may know Jesus better, that we may love him more, that we may trust him more, that we may obey him more fully. All this we ask in his good name, amen.

Turn with me, if you will, to Colossians 1. I want to ask us a simple question this morning…Who is Jesus to us? Let's begin in verse 15. We're referring to Jesus here. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

There's so much to unpack. I wish we had more time to do so, but I'm going to be brief. There are two things immediately said about Jesus. The first thing is "He is the image of the invisible God…" In the original language in the New Testament, the word we find there for image is icon. That's a familiar word to us. Right? We love to throw around the concept of "That was iconic."

Icon can mean one of two things. It can mean something is well represented or it can mean something is manifested completely. Let me see if I can break this down for you. If you've ever seen the Broadway version of the musical Hamilton, you could say Lin-Manuel Miranda is iconic in that role. What we're saying is he represents Alexander Hamilton well. He thinks, speaks, and acts like him in a way that we can kind of connect to him. We would never say, though, that he manifests Alexander Hamilton.

When you and I look at Jesus, he is the very manifestation of the invisible God. The Bible teaches that God is triune, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Son became a human being without losing any of his divinity. We would say Jesus is truly God and truly man in one person so that when you and I look at Jesus in his face we see, very much, the essence of God in human form.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and, not only that, according to this text he is the firstborn of all creation. Does that seem kind of odd? In other words, if Jesus is, according to this text, the agent of creation, there never was a time when he didn't exist. That's not what this verse is saying. It's not saying there was a time when there wasn't Jesus, and then he was born and the rest of creation followed.

Jesus is, according to this text, the very agent of creation. All things that exist…visible, invisible, things on earth, things in the heaven…all things that have come into being came through the agency of Jesus and ultimately will have destination in Jesus. When we're saying that Jesus is the firstborn over all creation, we are saying he's the first in sequence (he's preexistent), but he's more than that. He's first in significance.

Of all the created universe, visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth, Jesus has ultimate supreme worth. I love to bring this up to my little brother. There are just two of us in my family, and I remind him all the time, "Hey, biblically, little bro, I am not only first in sequence. According to the Bible, I'm first in significance." He will roll his eyes or give me a side-eye, and I'll say, "Hey, don't be a hater. I'm just trying to be biblical here."

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He's the firstborn of all creation, and I want you to see how magnificent he is. All things that exist, without exception, visible and invisible, were created by him and through him and ultimately are for him, and then there's this statement we find at the end of verse 17 that's so compelling to me. It says, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." What does that mean?

I've served in churches before with members who are nuclear physicists. They're so above my head, and they love to sit down and explain atomic theory to me. This is basically a text that they say totally coincides with what we know from science. I think all that's good and true and great, but that's not what this text means. What this text means is Jesus holds all things together in that he gives meaning to everything. In other words, through Jesus, the entirety of the world, visible and invisible, including you and me, makes sense. Apart from Jesus, nothing makes sense whatsoever. Who is Jesus to us?

1. Jesus is our meaning. All that we are, all that we think, all that we feel, and all that we do ultimately have meaning inasmuch as we relate to Jesus. Apart from him, nothing has meaning. So, when we think about who we are as men and women, as a male and as a female, we ultimately have to understand what this means to Jesus. Look with me, if you will, to the very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, and we will see exactly what God intended in creating human beings. From Genesis 1:

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them.

And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" I love this last statement. Verse 31: "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."

Here's what I want you to see. As God created us as human beings, he created two types of human beings. He created us as male or female. Two types of human beings in God's intent: male and female. We are distinct, yet this is what we have in common: equal value before God and one purpose, that we would multiply, fill the earth, exercise God's good stewardship over the earth, and in so doing reflect his glory throughout all the earth by being people who worship and enjoy God forever.

It sounds so simple, so clean, so beautiful, so magnificent. It raises the question, though…How in the world did we get to where we are today? How did we get to this place that we live among a culture and a people where we're confused about who we are and who God is? How did this happen? Do you have this sense that something went terribly wrong? If so, you're absolutely right.

When we understand the Bible, there are four acts to the Bible. The first act is creation. This was the culmination of creation. God created us male and female in his image to reflect his glory throughout the earth, and when it was done he declared it was good, but our first father and our first mother, Adam and Eve, sinned against God. They rebelled against God, and when they did, everything in all of creation was corrupted.

You and I are born guilty of the sin of Adam and Eve. We are born estranged from God. We are born separate from God. We are sinners both by nature and by choice, and the world we live in is compromised in every way you could imagine. Here's a passage of Scripture I want to read for you that explains exactly how we have landed in the space that we are today where there's so much confusion about what it means to be a male or a female, even what it means to be a human being. Romans 1:18-23. Listen to this.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things."

Do you see what's going on here? The first human beings sinned and rebelled against God, and you and I bear the consequence of that. You and I live in a world where, although God has made his attributes known by us that we should be able to see by looking at the creation around us, we suppress the truth about God.

Everybody has done this. There's no one exempt from this. There are no exceptions. As a species, we've done this against God, and the results are catastrophic. We live with futile minds. We live with darkened hearts that are foolish that lead to chaos, confusion, contention, and brokenness before God.

The hardest thing I had to do this week, as I was preparing for this message, was to give you a good definition of gender identity, because there are so many different ones. It kind of just enhances the confusion we're living in. Everybody has a different definition. So I went to the gold standard of definitions. I went to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

This is what gender identity is. Listen to this. The dictionary defines gender identity this way: "A person's internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female." I want you to understand what this is like. If you don't personally relate to this, I want to help you understand what's happening here.

This practically means we have this sense of who we are that's invisible. You can't see it. In many ways it's the real me. It's the invisible part of who I am. It's part of my soul. It's my spirit. It's my mind. This idea is that somehow I'm misaligned. The invisible part of me does not match, does not square with the visible part of me.

The internal way I see myself doesn't reflect the external biology of who I am. My psychology is not necessarily aligned with my physiology. Or we would say it, almost from a biblical perspective, my mind and my soul are misplaced within my body. Do you see the confusion? Do you feel the pain of that? Do you feel the hardship of that?

As I shared with you earlier, I get to serve within the ministry we call re:generation here. If you're not familiar with re:generation, I would love for you to come join us. We're here every Monday night at 6:30. Re:generation is a discipleship ministry with a recovery application. One of my favorite things to do is I get to interview and spend time with people who have completely worked through the re:gen curriculum. It usually takes about a year, and I love to hear their stories of transformation.

Recently, I sat down with a young man who has commenced through re:generation, and gender confusion is part of his story. I asked if I could share with you some of his thoughts about the subject, and he graciously allowed me to do this. This is how he would explain how he feels and the way he sees himself: "Speaking of my own experience, I would describe it as confusion. You have desires that are contrary to what the world views as normal and acceptable.

So I spent years hiding my desires and activities. It started with cross-dressing then evolved over time into questioning if I was transgender. I recognized I wasn't transgender, but then it turned into thinking I was gender fluid. I shared what I was feeling with affirming people, but I still didn't feel right. There was still something missing. It was a long process, and ultimately, it led to confusion, anxiety, isolation, and shame." This is the world we live in.

Act one of the Bible is creation. God created us to be male and female, to worship and enjoy him forever, but chapter two is our common parents, Adam and Eve, sinned against God, and an entire world was compromised so that we end up in a place of confusion, isolation, alienation, shame, and guilt.

I want you to understand something so significant. If Jesus is ultimately the meaning of all the universe…all things have meaning in him and he holds all things together…it practically means that you and I are never going to find truth looking internally. Truth is not intrinsic to us; it is external. Truth is not subjective; it's ultimately objective in the person of Jesus.

I have a question for you this morning. Are you finding meaning in Jesus? Are we finding meaning in Jesus? Now, if you're struggling, like our friend is struggling here, I have good news for you. God has made a way for us through Jesus to not only be reconciled but ultimately restored to his intended purpose for us.

Look at Colossians 1:18, speaking of Jesus again. "And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." God created us to worship and enjoy him forever. We fell into sin. The whole earth was compromised, but God being rich in mercy, God being a gracious God, a forgiving God, has made a way for us in Jesus.

God the Son became a human being. He's like us in every way except he was born without a sin nature. He never sinned. He lived the only perfect life that has ever been lived. He went to the cross, and there he died in your place and in my place, taking upon himself our sin. He did that to pay the penalty for our sin. He did that to break the power sin has over us.

Here's the best news I have: you're not going to find Jesus in any grave. You can search the world. You're never going to find the bones of Jesus, because he has risen bodily, physically, from the grave. He's at the right hand of God the Father. One day he'll come back, and he'll rule and reign forever. The good news today is, as a result of his resurrection, he is preeminent over everything. Jesus is supreme. Jesus is foremost. Jesus is first over everything, everywhere.

I love what Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, said about the preeminence of Jesus: "There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!'" Isn't that beautiful?

It takes us to the third act in Scripture. First chapter: creation. Second chapter: fall. Third chapter: redemption. God is redeeming a people for himself through Jesus, a people who can be reconciled to him through Jesus, and Jesus today reigns over the entire universe. He is preeminent in all things.

2. Jesus is our mission. Now, I know those of you who are more Bible literate than some of the rest of us are going to say, "Wait a minute. I think our mission is to make disciples." Yes, it is. Let me prove this to you. Look with me at Matthew, chapter 28, a passage of Scripture we call the Great Commission. Look at verse 18.

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" That sounds like Colossians 1, doesn't it? He's preeminent. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Don't you love what Jesus says here? Jesus gathers his disciples around him. He has already gone to the cross. He has resurrected. He has yet to ascend into heaven, and he says to his disciples the truth we see here in Colossians 1. "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. I am preeminent." Then Jesus says, "I'll be present with you forever."

Between those two statements, Jesus says, "I want you to make disciples, and making disciples involves three things. It's going to the nations. I want you to go to all nations, and I want you to baptize them. When they profess faith, their orientation, their introduction to the faith is to baptize them." Then Jesus says something else. "I want you to teach them to observe all that I command." In other words, "I want you to teach them to obey me."

In other words, the essence of being a disciple and making a disciple is that we live our lives entirely under the preeminence of Jesus. Jesus is first in all of our thoughts. Jesus is first in all of our words. Jesus is first in all of our feelings. Jesus is first in all of our understanding. Jesus is first in all of our behaviors. That's the essence of the mission. Jesus is our mission.

I have a dear friend who lives out of state whose adult stepson has been struggling lately. He has had some legal troubles. I knew he was having some hardships in life, so I called my buddy the other day, and I said, "Hey, how can I pray for your stepson?" He said, "Well, my stepson has now begun the process of altering his body. He is taking hormones, and his body is beginning to look like a woman's body."

I could tell he was troubled by this, and I said, "Let me pray for him. I'm going to pray for your stepson." I said, specifically, "I'm going to pray that he comes to peace with who God created him to be." There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. I thought, "Uh-oh. I don't think he's okay with what I just said I'd pray for."

He rightfully and kindly rebuked me. He said, "Dave, I'm going to ask you to pray for more than that. I'm going to ask that you would pray that my stepson finds his purpose in life, that he'd be more than just at peace with who he is, that he would be someone who lives his life for Jesus." Church, isn't that what we want? Isn't that what it means to be a disciple?

We want to be people who live under the preeminence of… We don't make Jesus preeminent. He already is. What we want to do is align our lives, our thoughts, our feelings, our words, and our actions with the preeminence of Jesus everywhere we go, and we want all those we know and love to do the same. Are we on mission with Jesus today? He is our mission. He is our meaning.

Are you ready for some good news? Here we go. Colossians 1:19: "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." That's the gospel. That's good news. I want you to see two big ideas from this text.

First of all, Jesus isn't an afterthought in the mind of God. God didn't reluctantly take on human form, live a perfect life, die a substitutionary death, and resurrect from the dead. The fullness of God was pleased to dwell within Jesus, because there's great purpose God has in Jesus, and that is that he would reconcile to himself an estranged world, that he would make peace, that the world that's now in an antagonistic relationship, the creation that's no longer right with God, and human beings would become right with God through the blood of Jesus.

Jesus died in your place. That's the good news. The blood of Jesus pays the penalty for your sin. The blood of Jesus breaks the power of sin over you, and God is reconciling to himself all things through Jesus. I love the way John Perkins, who is a pastor, theologian, and activist, talks about this. John Perkins says at the cross of Jesus there are at least four different spheres of reconciliation.

The first is people are reconciled to God. That's your story today. If you're here and you're a follower of Jesus, you would say, "I was estranged from God, and now I'm reconciled with God. All the love that God the Father has for the Son is mine. I am now walking in the performance and righteousness of Jesus that I've received as a free gift. This was achieved through the blood of the cross, and I'm right with God."

Not only that. People can be reconciled with people. I love to see this at re:generation. At re:generation we receive people… Some of them are coming from broken marriages. Almost everybody has broken relationships in their life. There are siblings that are… Occasionally, we see people who have been abused and their abusers coming together. What we see is reconciliation that happens through the blood of Jesus. People who are at odds with one another come together, and they're reconciled through Jesus.

The third sphere Perkins likes to talk about is people groups being reconciled to people groups. We see this in the Bible. Jewish people are reconciled to non-Jewish people or Gentiles. Men can be reconciled to women. People from different races and ethnicities can be reconciled together. Jews can be reconciled to Palestinians. There's no limit to this. Perhaps even someday Longhorns can be reconciled to Aggies. Maybe it will happen. All through the cross of Jesus Christ.

There's one other dimension I want you to see, which is so encouraging to me. If you're here today and really feel like a foreigner in your own body…you really feel like, "Who I am internally doesn't match up with who I am externally," yet you're here, you're trusting Jesus, and you're asking for his help…I want to share with you some good news.

The fourth sphere of reconciliation is God to his creation. In other words, everything is going to be restored someday. Everything. When Jesus returns and establishes his reign on earth forever, the new heavens and new earth will be totally restored. There will be no more confusion, no more chaos, no more cancer, no more anything. We will be with Jesus forever, and we will be gendered people, male or female, perfectly at peace with who we are, worshiping Jesus in right relationship forever. That's incredibly good news.

Listen to me today. If you're here as a follower of Jesus, and you're struggling with this issue, I want to let you know there's hope. Jesus is going to be able to carry you through, and when we get to the end, you will be forever at peace with who you are, because you will ultimately be with him, and he will make all things right.

3. Jesus is our message. The most important message we have to communicate to each other and to the world outside this room is the good news that God is reconciling people to himself through the blood of Jesus. We call that the gospel. Are we on message? I was involved with a church plant 25 years ago right in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico, right next to the University of New Mexico.

As you might imagine, the nature of that community was very progressive politically. People were only mildly interested in Jesus, but they hated organized religion, and they certainly didn't want to have anything politically to do with the church. What I would do was I'd spend time walking up and down Central Avenue, meeting shopkeepers and having conversations with them about Jesus.

I remember one shopkeeper. We'll say her name is Jane. She seemed to me to be incredibly drawn to the gospel. She seemed to be interested. She asked a lot of questions. We looked at the Bible together, and she began to give assent to every point. She saw herself as a sinner. She knew she needed a Savior. She saw that in Jesus.

I woke up one morning, and I decided, "Today is the day Jane becomes a Christian." So I made my way over to her shop. I sat there. I waited for the customers to come and go. They left. It was an opportune time to talk, and I said, "Jane, what's holding you back today from trusting in Jesus?" Tears welled up in her eyes, and I could see there was internal tension in her. I went over the gospel again, and I said, "Are you ready?" She said, "I'm not ready."

I went over it one more time, and she agreed with everything I said. I said, "I don't understand what's going on here. You agree with everything I'm sharing with you. What is keeping you from becoming a Christian?" Here's exactly what she said to me. She began to sob, and when she finally caught her breath she said, "Dave, I'm so ready to become a Christian. I'm just not ready yet to register as a Republican." Man!

I said, "Jane, where do you see that in the Bible?" She said, "I'm not ignorant. I pay attention to what people say on social media." Now, some of you have already gone to your iPhone. Some of you have already gone to your smartphone. You've activated your Outlook app. You're going to go to your Gmail account. I know you're going to send me emails, so let me explain why I tell you that story. Let me tell you what I'm not saying.

We, as Christians who want the common good for all people, should be politically active, and we shouldn't be indifferent. We should be supportive of policy that reflects what God wants for the common good of all people. Absolutely all in on that. But there are times in which our political message and our policy endorsement and the din of those statements becomes so loud we drown out the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We forget our first message is to a world that's estranged from God, and it must be (and it's more timely than it has ever been in the history of the world), "Be reconciled to God today through the blood of Jesus." Everything else flows from that. (Now, if you still feel the need to send me an email, I'll be glad to see it. You can send it to pastorta@watermark.org. Does that work?) Church, are we on message? Are we leading with the good news that God is reconciling to himself all things through the blood of Jesus Christ?

What do we do with this? Maybe you're here today, and you're struggling. The thing I would tell you is "Be reconciled to God." If your relationship with God isn't right, if you're estranged, if you've never put your trust in Jesus, trust him today. He's here with open arms. He's ready to receive you. You don't have to clean yourself up. The only righteous hope you have is his righteousness credited to your account. Will you trust him today?

How do we have this conversation? What do we need to do when it comes to helping people, loving people, and serving people around the concepts of gender identity and confusion? I want us to be compassionate, because Jesus is also our model. Listen to what we read about it from him in Scripture. This is from the gospel of Mark, chapter 6. "When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things."

When I look at the world around us today, I see sheep without a shepherd. How can we be compassionate like Jesus? Church, I think there are two things we can do, and I want to close with these. First, I want you to see that Christ-centered clarity is compassionate when it comes to those who are wrestling through their understanding of gender. What's true is true, and the Jesus who makes it true is also the Jesus who loves people, transforms people, welcomes people, and ultimately will restore people.

This young man from re:generation tells his story this way. I want you to hear it. This is what he said. This is the growth he has experienced. This is the freedom he has found as he has wrestled with feeling like an alien in his own body at times. He says, "I think it should be said that my desires haven't disappeared." Things are still challenging for him. "It's still a struggle, but I'm not wrecked with anxiety and doubt, because I know my identity is in Christ, and I know that entertaining those desires leads me away from Christ and toward death. But there's hope and peace and joy to be found because of the gospel of Jesus." Amen?

Do you see the change that has happened in him? Anxious, guilty, feeling filled with shame, withdrawn. Now, although the struggles haven't totally gone away, he's experiencing hope, peace, and joy because of the gospel of Jesus. Christ-centered clarity is compassionate. It's not compassionate at all to watch people headed down a dangerous path and say nothing at all.

If you're struggling today, let me encourage you. You don't need to be re-gendered; you need to experience the regeneration that only God can bring through Jesus. What doesn't need to change is your external body; what needs to change is who you are inside. God is able to make you entirely new, because he loves you and wants the very best for you.

The other thing we can offer is Christ-centered community. Christ-centered community is compassionate. We say it all the time. This is a place where it's okay not to be okay. We can be totally honest and candid with each other on where we are and what we're struggling with. If you're here today and you're struggling with your identity as what it means to be a male or a female, I want you to look around the room and understand there's not a single person in this room who doesn't have some sort of deep sin struggle.

God has brought us together so we may encourage one another, that we may hold one another accountable, that we might pray for one another, that we might bear one another's burdens. We are in this together. Being conformed to the image of Christ is a community project, and we want to be here for you. My friend from re:gen says it this way. As he was telling his story, I heard this over and over. He talked about the importance of his community.

He says it this way: "These guys have had a huge impact in my recovery. They encourage, they challenge, and they love me. They remind me of the truth when I want to buy into the lie that I know what is best for me. My life would look radically different if I didn't have faith in Jesus or my community." Do you see how they go together? Like pedals on a bicycle. Christ-centered clarity and Christ-centered community, both of them equally compassionate.

Maybe you're here today, and you're a young person, and if you would be totally candid you would say, "I'm really struggling with feeling comfortable in my own body. I don't really know who I am. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be." Let me encourage you to take a bold step. Would you share that struggle with your parents? Would you trust that God has given you parents to love you and to care for you? It might be the most awkward moment of your life, but would you step out and share with your parents, "Here's what I'm struggling with"?

Maybe you're here, and you're in a Community Group. Would you open yourself up to the people in your community if you're struggling with this? I hope you'll find what my friend found. He was not condemned. No one was condescending. Instead, his Community Group was compassionate. They said, "We are in this with you. Let's work together toward what God would have for all of us in Jesus." I love that.

If you're struggling with this as an adult, join us tomorrow night. I'll be in this very space at 6:30 tomorrow night. There will be several hundred people gathered, all of us coming together to find freedom in Jesus. Would you come? Come once. Just check it out and see what it's about. If you do, come meet me. I'd love to meet you. I'd love to hear your story.

Some of you today have heavy hearts, and the fact that it's Father's Day makes it more difficult, because you have a child, maybe an adult child, who's struggling with this very issue. I want you to know there are many families here at Watermark Community Church that have this struggle within their families, and many of them come together on Tuesday night at a ministry we call Prodigal. It meets every Tuesday. You could come this Tuesday night. Let me put the website address up here for you. It's watermark.org/theprodigal.

Come be a part of this group. I've heard from those who serve this ministry that this is the most common issue right now that the parents who come together at Prodigal are facing, a child, perhaps even an adult child, who's struggling with understanding gender and who God intended them to be. Come. Find encouragement. Find support. Find people who will cry with you, who will hold your hand, and who will pray with you.

You may not know this, but at re:generation, about 50 percent of the people who come on Monday night are not from Watermark Community Church. Some of them come out of the community who are completely unchurched. They don't know Jesus. But we have a steady stream of people who come from other churches. We are happy to serve other churches. We want to be a unifying church in this community and beyond, so we're absolutely happy.

But do you know what I hear sometimes? I will hear people who will come from other churches, and they will say, "I came here because I can't talk about my issues in my church." Doesn't that break your heart? I'm thankful that Watermark Community Church is a place where we can be open, honest, and transparent about where we're struggling. We can find people to come alongside us and point us to Jesus. He loves us, he's for us, he has redeemed us, and ultimately he will restore us. He's our meaning, our mission, and our message. Would you pray with me?

Father, you know the needs that are in this room. You love everyone who's here. Would you build us up? Would you strengthen us? Father, I pray we would be clear in our communication about this issue. Father, I pray that we'd be a community where people are free to be honest and open about their struggles and find hope, the only hope that is true hope, that they would find hope in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, transform us. Change us for your glory and our good. In your good name we pray together, amen.


About 'A Bible-Revering Church'

God’s word is our authority, conscience, and guide.