Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some Thoughts on Love and a World Vision Vision

(This post is modified from a response given in a Facebook post.  Seems I write more passionately during a conversation than just musing.) 

World Vision US stirred up a surprising amount of controversy by announcing they would allow monogamous, married gays to serve and hold jobs at World Vision US. They were very clear that the decision was not a position statement.

"This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support. We're not caving to (an) employee group lobbying us. This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We're an operational arm of the global church, we're not a theological arm of the church.  This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more."
I would truly hate it if a disagreement among Jesus' followers - on how to best follow and serve Jesus -  were to deprive those children served by World Vision of food and medicine just because we Jesus followers disagree on theology.

I think Jesus would hate that. 

I think the root of the matter comes down to a difference in vision of how the church fulfills the Kingdom mission, and Christ's commands. Maybe even a disagreement on exactly what the mission is.  

The article clearly states the World Vision position that they are NOT a church. 

They are an operational arm of the GLOBAL CHURCH in general, which encompass countless denominations and doctrinal variants. They do not impose theology on their employees, nor enforce any doctrines. They exist to serve. 

I think we should be careful about setting limitations on those that truly want to serve. One of Jesus' best missionary witnesses was the Samaritan woman living with her boyfriend, after already having been married and divorced several times. Jesus didn't pronounce any judgment on her situation when he spoke directly to her, he only acknowledged it as true. My hope is that Jesus' love for her, his caring interest in her situation and acceptance of her as a person, motivated her to a change, but there was no decree or command of Jesus for her to change her ways to follow or worship him or serve him. Jesus bids us come as we are if we are willing, and follow him, and let him change us as we walk. NOT for us to demand people change in order to be allowed to walk with us in peace or do good works. 

That’s the very definition of grace. Being loved exactly as you are – warts, wrinkles, faults, sins and lifestyle.  While we were yet enemies of God, God made peace with every person on earth. 

Let thank sink in a moment.  

God. Made. Peace. With. Everyone. Unilaterally. Him first. 

It’s been argued that some in the church who are accepting or supporting of homosexual inclusion “take grace too lightly”.  I don't even know what that means, but I will say this in response:

I think far too many Christians do not understand or teach or live out just how wide and large and loving and beautiful the Grace of God in Jesus Christ is. 

We insist on setting limits on grace, saying it can't apply here, or it can’t apply to that person if they live this way. When we begin to place our limits on the Grace of God in Jesus Christ, when we say to anyone that "you can't be a Christian because......",  we short change the gospel and people know it.

We preach “God loves and accepts you just as you are", and that God's grace is for everyone……but not if you are openly homosexual. 

 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Not even homosexuality, or my fear of homosexuality. 

If I am a closet porn addict, we say God’s grace applies to me. I am a sinner, but saved by grace.  But if I am a closet homosexual, we say to that I - me personally in my living skin - am an abomination to God and need to change in order to be acceptable to God. 

We use verses like 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 to justify telling people they are wicked, and must be expelled until those homosexual feelings are under control and expelled from their lives. 

There’s no other sin we do this with.
"There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family."
We preach forgiveness and reconciliation and we work side by side with sinners struggling with every one of those sins listed in Proverbs 6. We don't ostracize a single one. We embrace and work to reconcile.

Why homosexuality? 

There is no other person, lifestyle, or sin that we so actively call people out on, and call them an abomination to God, other than a gay man or woman. 

Do you see how damaging this is? 

We force people underground, and make them lie to us in order to be a part of the Family of God, if by any miracle the Holy Spirit is still holding on to their hearts enough that they want to be with a people who thinks they are some sort of abomination.

We say “I love the sinner, I just hate the sin”. 

But how can I love someone that I think is detestable and an abomination before God? How can I separate the sin from the sinner, when indeed I use the sin to DEFINE the sinner? The answer is I can’t, which leads me to think we need to rethink this love they neighbor thing that Jesus talked about it.  

I just don’t think we've been doing it very well.

I think our job is not to judge, but to love. Confrontation at times is loving, absolutely, but only insofar as it corrects, restores, and edifies. It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict men of sin, not mine to point out another's sin. 

That's kinda the whole “log in my eye, dust spec in the other guy’s eye” thing. 

Jesus says be real careful with that.

I'm not arguing with any one in particular, but with a spirit that I see abounds in the church. I argue for what I believe is a fundamental change the Church - the big capital C church - needs to make. 

I am convinced to the bottom of my soul that we must re-examine just what Jesus meant by love your neighbor, and how wide and deep and long and colorful and beautiful his grace is. I think the world "out there", the great harvest, is hungry to be loved, not to be told how sinful they are. They are hungry to be a part of something meaningful, and much deeper than a "don't sin" club. They are hungry to know that God created them, yes THEM (after all, every Christian was a “them” at one time), in his image and loves them with a deep, compelling love because they are HIS IMAGE! God unsurpassably loves! That’s why we love, because God loves us, and we love what He loves. 

A Christian life about sin management is no life at all. God has managed our sin for us in Christ. We need to seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God, , and show God to the world. Right living is "love God" and "love your neighbor". Love all, and the truth that is Jesus will convict men of their sin, and the Holy Spirit will change their hearts. 

Our job is to love, love, love and love just the same way God did. Indiscriminately, and sacrificially to the point of giving all.  

I submit this in the hopes of enjoining unity around the cross of Jesus, not uniformity in thought and doctrine. 

Jesus never asked for uniformity. He prayed for unity in love.