1. Set your mind
Paul begins the book of Colossians with the advice to “set our minds on eternity,” not thinking about temporary struggles and temptations, but basically being Kingdom-minded. For me it’s a matter of prayer, and I don’t mean like praying before a meal or before a test, but coming before God humbly and asking:
“God, I don’t know who I’m going to encounter today, but help me to love them as You would love them. Don’t even let me respond. Instead, respond through me.”
Think of this like the “imaging” an athlete practices before a big race, imagining the event over and over again and picturing himself/herself succeeding in every step. Imagine the encounters you might have and ask yourself, “Jesus, how would You have me respond?” The more time we spend in prayer and reading God’s word the more we’ll be equipped for these confrontations.
How do we respond to someone sexually immoral or living in sin? If we’re in the Word then we probably can recall how Jesus responded to the woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8), the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her hair (Luke 7), or even Zacchaeus (Luke 19).
The more we allow Jesus to manipulate our mindset, the more we’ll respond in love and the less we’ll respond like Grampa after he’s been watching Fox News for the last hour.
This might also help us…
2. Step into their shoes
Ask yourself, why is my niece announcing this to me and risking my objection? What brought her to the point of identifying this way? (Some might argue that she has always identified this way. Others might reason that circumstances provoked this change in sexual identity. Either way, ask yourself, how did she get here?) How is she feeling right now? Alone? Rejected? Angry?
The best way to get the answer to these questions is by gently asking.
Consider the example in the beginning of this article, “Oh, and I’m bisexual.” The simple response could be, “Tell me more about that?”