I’m Struggling

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I’ve been avoiding this topic; not because I don’t have anything to say, rather I’m not sure how to say what I want to say. So maybe the best way to say this is to just speak from a sincere and open heart.

I’m struggling with my attitude and emotions.

I’m hurt, angry, and confused.

Last week, a huge announcement came forth from World Vision, informing the public that they would hire people who were legally married to a same-sex spouse. The entire internet erupted.

One side rejoiced at the seemingly landmark move. One side started boycotting in disdain over World Vision’s announcement.

And then things really got ugly. About 48 hours later, World Vision reversed it’s announcement, and apologized to the Christian community for their wrong doing. The policy to not hire people married to the same-sex went back into effect.

One side rejoiced at the news, once again claiming a victory. One side was furious, being once again dejected.

My reason for writing this post isn’t to debate gay marriage. In fact, my intension extends beyond gay marriage.

I love the Church. I’m a part of the Body of Christ. I believe in the Church, and I refuse to step away from it or give up on it. I know we can be better. I know we can love better. I know we can imitate Jesus better than we’ve been doing.

From all sides, what I saw of the Church last week deeply angered me. For a moment, I was ashamed to be a Christian. Where is the likeness of Christ in all of this, I thought. How are people experiencing the gospel and hope of Christ?

Once again, the value of a certain people group was reduced to a category of sin. We continue to forget, that while Jesus called out sin, He first and foremost saw the person before Him as a person He created, and intended to die for. Jesus moved towards us because of His deep love and rich mercy for us. He wasn’t repelled by our sin, nor did He demand total repentance and transformation before feeding and healing people. Christ saw people, their need for Him, and He acted out of compassion.

Being those who reflect His image and glory, shouldn’t we act in the same manner towards others, regardless of who they are and how they behave?

For the past week, I have been going over four particular verses:

2 Timothy 2:24-26 - And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

1 Peter 3:15 - but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Timothy 1:15-16 - The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Matthew 9:36-38 - When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

I sure this week that several hundred people walked away from Jesus, not because they didn’t want Him but because they didn’t want us. People saw a form of Jesus that repelled them, and they concluded, if this is what Christianity is, then count me out. I’ve said the same thing. I have friends and family members who say the same thing. The fact that people walk away from Christ, because of us, pains my heart. I seriously lose sleep over it sometimes.

I was listening to Christian radio today. Artist were singing songs about being the Body of Christ, and radically loving others, and shining our light for the world to see. Some of these songs are sung during Sunday mornings. And as I was listening, all this emotion came up. We seem to forget what we profess and who we understand Jesus to be when push comes to shove. We tend to still choose the mantra “us vs them,” instead of “us and Him.” And for some of us, this happens unintentionally, though there are those who are very intentional about putting up this divide. But why?

I’m a man who desires to humbly and honestly reflect Christ in all that I say, think, and do. I’m a man who desires my brothers and sisters in Christ to pursue the same character of Christ.

We’re struggling though. So, what are we going to do about it?

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18 responses to “I’m Struggling

  1. First of all, I agree with you in general. Just like the Chick-fil-a thing and other junk that happens, many “Christians” responded wrong. And while I don’t agree with you on the issue of homosexuality, I agree that the World Vision thing is a debacle from both World Vision and the church in general.

    Now, let me address your issue about people walking away from Christ because of Christians. I hear this argument a lot, usually from folks like you, wanting the church to be better. We should be better, but these people aren’t going to be turned on to Christ because we play nice. They weren’t with the church the day before World Vision blew up, so it wouldn’t matter how the church responded. They aren’t coming to Christ…period.

    It is not your job to make Christians play nice. My blog is full of trying to get people to get over the Don’t ask don’t tell repeal, and it did absolutely no good.

    But that’s not the gospel message anyway. The Gospel is not us playing nicely with each other. The Gospel isn’t even about hiring people we don’t agree with. The Gospel is very simply that Christ died for our sins and if you want an eternity with him, you must accept that.

    In the end, it’s no more right for the unbelievers to lump us all together than it is for us to lump people together. It just proves that the enlightened people aren’t all that enlightened.

    • Thanks for commenting, Dan.

      I can see your point that it is not my “job to make Christians play nice,” however, it is our job to hold one another accountable and to spur one another on in love and good deeds.

      One question I do have, can you explain what you mean here, “And while I don’t agree with you on the issue of homosexuality.” Thanks.

  2. Hey bro, I totally agree with you. Thats why I loved the discussion we had with the IT3 page. Many radical different perspectives, definitely disagreement, but at the end of the day we still ended as a community of believers.
    What has bugged me (and maybe this is just me) is the “amazing” biblical scholarship people whip out in regards to certain sins, but you ask them to find verses on grace, love, or unity and they’ll draw blanks. Both sides have made a non-essential a matter of fellowship. Its sad, and you’re right, we’re hurting the essential mission – bringing people to Jesus.

  3. Thanks, Shawn. You’ve written a very thought provoking article and I agree with you. How can we be “like” Christ when we don’t show the love and compassion He gave to the sinner. We, while we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, still sin. Scripture tells us ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are not anyone’s judge. That is God’s place alone. While we don’t condone sin, it is our God-given opportunity to extend His hand and watch what His love does to those who are right now walking away from Christ. Every person has a story and many are stories of heartache and sorrow – simply because of the way they are treated. May we, as Christians, truly show His love and compassion…and then, watch the Holy Spirit work – drawing people to our Christ. Blessings to you. So thrilled to be part of the ministry to offer loving hands and compassion to those struggling with unwanted same-gender attraction and to parents and others who love this other group of people.

  4. From what I gathered, you were in agreement with World Vision’s initial decision whereas I am not. In my opinion, it’s not the same as the Navy’s DADT repeal.

      • In so many ways I’m sorry that you have been pushed into revealing your view on the original decision. What you wrote stands regardless of your personal take, but I was impressed that I could not tell. It could have come from either “side”. So often people want to know where one stands so that they can decide whether to accept or reject the point based on who said it rather than what has been said. I’ve sometimes refused to state my own position in conversation simply because I have felt it would detract from the real point I was making. So congratulations. Gotcha indeed.

  5. Shawn, great article. I’ve had very similar thoughts for a while and have not had the words to express them. I do have a question for you though: How are we to hold the balance of a loving Body of Christ and a Holy Body of Christ. As much as I hate the discord in the Body, I think a lot of it has to do with those who don’t want to see it corrupted by sin. (Although this discord and hatred is also a sin…) How would you suggest that people on both sides pursue love and unity when they believe the holiness of the Church is at stake?

  6. Dan Laubach, those were my thoughts, too. When does a ministry organization giving the “okay” to a lifestyle of sin cross the line from love to false teaching? And this raises other questions for me. I am guessing that there are those who work for WV who are currently involved in heterosexual relationships with people to whom they are not married. While I would like to see much more love and grace extended to those who do not yet know Christ, I would also like to see the leaders in ministry living lives that more closely reflect the holiness of God. I think we look too much like the world that we are trying to reach. I am afraid that we have extended the ease of coming to Christ (as you are) to following Christ (deny yourself). I think that if leadership were doing a lot more fleeing from sin and loving enemies, the body of Christ would begin to look more like the head, and those outside would be drawn in, even if we do say outrageous things about the world being created by One who made us for monogamous male-female relationships with a lifetime commitment regardless of circumstantial feelings.

    • Jen D. Great points and questions. I like how you brought the issue away from homosexuality and strictly looked at the conflict between being Christlike and sin. I have no doubt that we all struggle with sin, though Christians now have the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s wonderful work of sanctification to help us become more Christlike. I still don’t fully understand how I should approach the balance between supporting Gay and attacking them. Shawn made it very clear that attacking the unity of the body is just as sinful and perhaps even more harmful then anything else. I really just want to know how I can hold onto the unity of the Body in the midst of such hatred and disjunction? I’ve had similar thoughts as Shawn, but I just don’t feel like me sitting around not being hateful is helping. I really want to do something about it.

  7. Herein lies the dilemma. The gay activists have a defined, and agressive agenda. (If you haven’t read “A Queer Thing Happened in America” by Michael Brown, I highly recommend it). Part of the strategy is to stir up these issues so as to force Christians to respond – and when asked, how can we not? – and then attack us for being haters. Their goal is to either force us to accept everything they want, or just shut up. I agree that our #1 call is the Gospel, and to love people. But we need to remember, WE DIDN’T CREATE THESE ISSUES. They create them, force us to respond, then go after us when we do. I don’t know what the answer is either, but these issues are sucking all the oxygen out of the room and making it seem as if we can’t love ANYONE else unless we wholeheartedy acccept the gay agenda. Somehow we just have to do the work and ignore all the straw dogs they are putting up to make us look like the bad guys. I share your frustration, Shawn. Somehow we just have to not dance to the tunes that are being played. Keep up the good fight, Shawn.

  8. Jesus caught substantial flak from the Pharisees for healing people on the Sabbath. The Pharisees valued their own rectitude more than Jesus’ healing work, and were offended by it. And although I am disappointed that World Vision reversed their decision to recognize the civil marriages of their gay employees, I am fed up with Christians who made their point against gay marriage by withdrawing their financial support from the organization that serves needy children on their behalf. They are modern-day Pharisees that bullied World Vision–using 10,000 child sponsorships as their weapon–to reverse their policy. Jesus reserved harsh criticism for the Pharisees, and I hope that somebody calls these Christians to repentance for doing so.

    • Hey Seth. I keep hearing the 10,000 number being thrown around, but I can’t find anything on it. Do you have a reference link?

  9. What a great quote: We tend to still choose the mantra “us vs them,” instead of “us and Him.”

    This is what it comes down to, in so many different issues. So many Christians believe that it is our job to “fight to protect our rights”, rather than “turn the other cheek”.

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