this has been quite an eventful week.
WORLD VISION AND SAME SEX MARRIAGE
World Vision made a dramatic did-they-really-not-expect-the-reaction-it-got decision involving allowing employees to be in same-sex marriages.
the Evangelical response was strong with notable Christian speakers such as John Piper and Franklin Graham speaking out against the decision and many Christians apparently withdrawing support for World Vision and specifically for the children they support via World Vision.
a day or two later World Vision does a wibbly-wobbly and reverses their decision with president Rich Stearns answering some questions about the matter which included the fact that some of their staff had resigned because of stress:
We had a few in the past few days resigned partially because of stress. You can imagine some of the folks in our call center that our answering our 800 line. They’re receiving an earful of anger. I think we had a few people who couldn’t handle the stress and the anxiety created by the incoming calls.
the decision being reversed also had a dramatic impact on the organisation:
Within an hour of the reversal, the call volume dropped. The angry calls stopped and dropped to a much lower level. Some of the sponsors called back to reinstate their sponsorships.
The Twitterer was on fire with every well-known Christian writer/speaker/blogger having something to say including Rachel Held Evans:
I have never in my life been more angry at the Church or more embarrassed to be a Christian. It feels like a betrayal from every side.
meanwhile, on the other side of town, i posted a story from my friend, Irma, as part of the Taboo Topics section of my blog, on the topic of abortion, where there were special circumstances with both of the babies she lost and where she and her husband had wrestled with the decisions and ultimately she admitted that she still didn’t know if they did the right thing.
i am very much pro life and anti abortion, but when you read a story like Irma’s you realise how not black-and-white those issues can be when there are lives at risk and beyond the issue itself i was very interested to see how people, especially christians, would respond and for the most part there was a lot of love, grace and compassion on offer, but then also responses like this:
I don’t think that there is Any excuse for abortion. We have to suffer for our children and truly lay down our lives for them. those born normal and not. not just abort when the child doesn’t look normal or deformed. thats playing GOD. people died during child birth to give birth to babies that died , were sick and weren’t normal. no amount of justification will remove the fact that you took away a life. I don’t think God favors abortion, under any circumstance. He is a God of forgiveness, yes, but this is coming across as someone who just took things into their own hands and doesn’t have the faith that they speak so much about.
LET’S LET GOD BE GOD [as if we could stop Him!]
A couple of things to take note of:
# In Matthew 22 Jesus is asked what the most important thing is and His response is to love God with everything [heart, soul, strength, mind] and to love our neighbour as ourselves. [Later on He adds enemy to people we need to love and reminds us that His definition of ‘neighbour’ is everyone else in the world and particularly the person in need]
# In John 13 we read: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
# In James 1 we read two important things to take note of here: 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. Tight reign of tongue and look after orphans and widows.
# In Matthew 25’s parable of the sheep and the goats, those who are sent to eternal punishment were not sent away because of their bad theology or because they failed to judge those who had messed up – they did not hit the mark because they ignored the hungry, naked, sick, thirsty, imprisoned etc.
There should be no doubt that our primary focus needs to be love. God is going to be doing the judging and each of us will stand in front of Him one day giving account of our lives and actions and maybe more importantly the times we failed to show love, compassion and grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus has a lot of encounters with terribly sinful people and the ‘Go and sin no more’ of his encounter with the woman caught in sin is a reminder that He never takes their sin lightly or dismisses it. But we don’t see Him making the ‘horrible sinners’ feel bad and in fact He is accused of hanging around with the drunkards and prostitutes which means that they probably enjoyed being around Him and not because He made them feel bad i imagine. In fact the major time we see Jesus making people feel bad, it is the Pharisees and the Sadducees who held so strongly on to ‘the law’ and used it to place heavy burdens on those seeking God.
God is the judge – let Him judge.
We are called to hold people accountable yes, but let the phrase “Speak the Truth in Love” always be our guide and mentor.
And whatever we do, wherever we get it wrong, or are not sure, we HAVE to always get LOVE right. That is the highest call on us and we cannot get that one wrong. Love, compassion, grace, mercy, forgiveness, friendship, community… but always LOVE.
God will be God. [He’s pretty good at it!]