Saturday, April 5, 2014

Where Is Our Focus?

In the last few days, World Vision, among the largest humanitarian organizations that exists, made the decision to include among their employees those who are in same-sex relationships. Then, nearly as quickly, reversed its decision, stating that the decision they had made was shortsighted and not in line with scripture. This drew the ire of such notable people as Rachel Held Evans, who declared via her blog that she was withdrawing herself from the table of evangelicalism, and creating a table where all are welcome. Apparently she, and undoubtedly many others, see the reversal of such a decision on World Vision's part as being out of line with the gospel message.

I have to wonder, however, are they reading the complete gospel?

Just so that I am upfront, there will be no "bashing" of people here. I won't do it to World Vision, and I won't do it to Rachel Held Evans. I won't bash anyone. I will, however, question.

The point of the Christian life is to follow the example of Jesus. The gospel message is that we, through the work that Jesus has done, are given the ability to repent of our sins, not set them off to the side to be picked back up at a later time, but to let Jesus take them from us and make us new, and seek first His kingdom. It is a kingdom that is both present right now and is to come.

Jesus loved people. He broke bread with the sinners, the unclean. He met the lowliest of the low where they were. He did not leave them in their sinfulness. To the woman caught in adultery He said "Go and sin no more." He called people out of their sin.

To me, to be like Jesus seems like it is more than just meeting people's basic needs and sending them off while simultaneously patting your back and saying "Wow, we did some good work." Anybody can do that. Government programs try to do that. All sorts of agencies revolve around doing that very work.

While Jesus met people's physical needs, He confronted their spiritual despair as well. He did not back down from calling sin what it was, and also calling people out of their sin. It seems to me that being like Jesus is more than just doing good things, it is proclaiming that there is freedom from the sin that entangles us and keeps us separated from a holy and righteous God.

Before World Vision made their controversial decision, were they somehow less humanitarian in their efforts to meet the needs of others? I wonder what Rachel Held Evans would have to say about that?

In trying to address people becoming increasingly more vocal, and perhaps looking to win cultural approval, World Vision came to its decision. Then, its governing board realized that by doing so, they weren't doing what Jesus did. They were placating sin, not calling people to be free from sin.

If we're going to do what Jesus did, we have to do all of what He did. With Christ, it is all, or it is nothing.

Here is the truth: all sin separates us from God. Just because I may have some things I am dealing with that are different than the things you might be dealing with, doesn't mean I am either better off or worse off than anyone else. My sins, though different, kept me as separated as any other sins keep others separated from God.

Yet, I have been forgiven, and I am no longer seen as a sinner. I am seen as someone who has been bought by Christ's own blood, and to remain in a shameful and sinful state goes against the gospel message of repentance from sin. We do not preach the gospel or do justice to "social justice" if we neglect part of the gospel. And the good news is this freedom from sin is for anyone and everyone who has accepted Christ's invitation to become part of His family.

I get though that not everyone sees it this way, which is fine. But to them I would ask "When Jesus spoke of repentance, and being made new, being born again, being forgiven of sin, did He ever give any exceptions to that? You want to see Him as being loving and compassionate, but He did so by confronting people's spiritual needs through their physical needs. He did not compromise His call to repent to make it more palatable. He did not have different standards for different sinners. He preached one message."

We do injustice to social justice if we do not preach the whole gospel, or we try to work our way around God's standard to appease people.

It isn't a matter of not being welcome at the table. Jesus welcomed everyone, but they rarely left the same.

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