Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Back to Reality

So, its been a really long time since I posted anything.  Of course, I went on a vacation to Maui shortly after my last post, and I can claim that I had a hard time shaking the vacation state of mind.

It was awesome! It was truly the mixture of relaxation and activity and rest that I needed to reboot. Hawaii is a little slower paced without being lethargic. It's active without being frantic. It's expensive without being... no, there is no balance for that one. Hawaii is just ridiculously expensive.

So, I could claim "Aloha residue" for my lack of blog content, but frankly it's not true. I left the tropics firmly behind the moment I got home and was welcomed back by work and sick kids and activity schedules and sleep deprivation (also known as normal life). Honestly, we've been home for four weeks now, and I think I need a vacation.

As to blogging, I actually came home looking for a topic to write on, and about a week after I got home, my wife sent me this link. She knew that I was, and still am, struggling with God, asking for a calling that lines up with the way he made me; to do something that makes me tick, and this post was really well timed for what I was thinking about at the time.

I was all set to write about my struggles and journey in this area, and I still might someday, but before I could write anything, my wife, who counts keeping me up to date on the Twittersphere as one of her marital responsibilities, let me know about World Vision's decision to change their hiring practice going forward to include candidates that are "gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages". World Vision reversed this decision two days later, but honestly, I just couldn't stomach wading back into the electronic media world after the events that surrounded those couple days.

WV's decision was controversial to say the least, but you have to assume that they knew it would be.  It was not unanimous, so you also have to assume that to go ahead with a controversial, public change of policy that was not unanimously agreed upon, those in favor must have held pretty strong convictions about the decision.  However, by flipping their decision two days later, you would have to assume that one or all of the previous assumptions were not true.

All in all, it left me, as a WV supporter, questioning whether I should still be one.  It left me wondering if the inmates are running the asylum there.  Anyone with even half a foot in the real world (not the one described in newspapers and on TV where it is viewed through the agenda-du-jour hued lenses of producers and editors, but the world we actually live in) had to know that whole denominations would pull their support from WV on such a hot button issue.

I was disappointed that they would move in a direction that I strongly disagreed with, but more so, I was angry that they seemingly made the decision out of massive ignorance of what their supporters believe and hold as important and without the fortitude to stick to their convictions.  Mostly though, I was angry that they did it on a public stage, harming their credibility as one of the few well-known, Christian organizations with a reputation of serving humanity in the way Christ has called us.

However, it dawned on me that the people running WV may have lost touch with the reality in which you and I live.  They may be so immersed in caring for the sick and the poor, the orphaned and the widowed, that they may have lost sight of really important theological issues like the legal status of American marriages, or the sin status of different sexual acts, or at the very least, which sins are socially acceptable and which sins are not.  (And if some sins are not socially acceptable, but I think they should be, then which are sins legally justifiable with tax advantaged status and which sins clearly should be left to the full taxing authority of the IRS.)

It's as if the people at World Vision are so focused on ministering to the physically and spiritually impoverished people of the world, that they failed to realize that in America, we determined long ago that poverty and salvation are the purview of Emerging Market Christians.  We might bankroll missionaries or send our youth groups to those dirty corners of the world, but as a practice, we, the mature Christians of the Developed World, have moved past those concerns.  Our religion has evolved (or at least shows evidence of intelligent design). We have wisely delegated the care of the poor and widows and orphans to our government which allows us to focus on those issues mentioned above, but also critical theological questions such as as worship style and denominational differences.

It's as if World Vision has forgotten that these advances have ever taken place.  Maybe they should be renamed World Myopia since it seems they've lost the trees for the forest.

So, in light of the recent history of the American church, is it any wonder that people all over the United States took to Social Media to righteously denounce WV's policy change?  Is it any wonder that Twitter erupted with unconstrained religious fervor (limited to 140 characters or less) broadcasting our outrage instantaneously and globally without the constraints of the archaic pauses that were necessary when we actually had to listen to one another?  Is it any wonder that Christians now post and Like and Friend and Un-Friend and Tweet in the name of Christ while forgetting James 1:19: "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..."

Sarcasm aside, I am not innocent in this.  I do not speak from a position unblemished by the judgement and condemnation of others.  I may not have pulled my sponsorship or participated in the public condemnation of fellow Christians and non-Christians alike, but I did feel those things in my heart.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that World Vision reinstated their original hiring policy, the damage was done. Reversal or not, homosexual tolerance or not, the damage was done.


It has been reported that in the two days that followed WV's policy shift between 5,000 to 10,000 child sponsorships were dropped. I don't know if those numbers are accurate or exaggerated.  I don't know what the real number is, and I don't care. Any number greater than zero is wrong.

But I'm not worried for the children.  As the song goes, "Jesus loves the little children."  He will take care of them.  For every donor who dropped a child, I believe God will raise up others to take their places.

I'm worried for us.  I'm worried for Christ's church.  I'm worried that almost 2000 years after God became flesh and lived among us and showed us how much He loves us by enduring an excruciating death on a cross so that thieves and adulterers and liars and yes, even homosexuals can be washed clean of their sin and then rose again so that we may not only be free to live with Him, but also free to look past our self-centered worry for our own salvation and bring the love of God to the whole world, that almost 2000 years later, we are still yelling "Crucify Him!"

Only now we cry out with a couple of taps from a well-trained thumb.

I may not be able to speak from an unblemished position, but I am becoming increasingly aware that the standards that we hold ourselves to as Christians have become too low by far.  I am becoming increasingly aware that the "real world" is not the world that God "really" wants it to be. I am becoming increasingly aware that if I claim Christ lives in me, but I do not live in Christ, then I may not be able to make that claim.  I am becoming increasingly aware that God has a desire to see his children loved and that he expects us to be instruments of that love.  And this awareness is staggering.

I don't live this way, but I can no longer claim ignorance.  If my life doesn't look different now, I have no excuse.  So, I'm working on what it looks like for me, and I'd like to be able to tell you specifically what it looks like for you, but I believe it looks a little different for all of us.  We are not here by mistake.  God is not random. I believe we are to live out the Gospel in each corner of the world where God has placed us, and I believe that we are to fervently pursue the passions that God has placed in our hearts and to use the talents he has blessed us with.

As I said, that is going to look somewhat different for each of us, but I also believe it looks somewhat the same for each of us. We do have an example in this.

I believe we are to stand tall above the crowd.  To stand apart in both word and deed.  To rise up strong and unyielding in our convictions.  To face the evil of this world with the full confidence that we are fulfilling what God has placed us on Earth to do.

And to do all these things while still keeping our arms open wide in love.

Happy Easter.


  1. Thank you, Joel! I'm sorry I didn't get by to read this sooner. Thank you for sharing your heart, your sorrow, and your hope in Jesus! Somehow, He will transform our hearts and make us shine with His light. We are all sinners saved only by His amazing grace.

    1. Thanks for your comment Tyrean. I'm glad it spoke to you. I was a little worried about posting on a somewhat stale topic and about coming across as too judgmental (that would kind of defeat the purpose of the post). Easter is always a good time to reflect on Christ modeling our absolutely undeserved grace.