World Vision: After the dust has settled

14 04 2014

A few weeks ago, the Christian community was rocked by the news that World Vision, an organization that helps third-world children and adults with basic needs and Christian teaching, changed their policy to allow the hiring of homosexuals, along with married homosexuals, into their organization.  This instantly caused many to withdraw their financial support until two days later, when World Vision reversed their decision due to the backlash from supporters.

While this may be old news to many, the arguments for and against that I’ve seen and heard have been basically the same.  One the one side, there are many Christians that just can’t believe World VIsion would do such a thing as to hire those that are in open sin into their organization and can’t see themselves supporting such a “ministry”.  On the other side, there are those that think this is a good way to show people that Christians can love everyboby, even homosexuals, and, besides, how can someone just take away their support and leave these children without basic needs?

After the dust has settled and the arguments are basically over, I guess my question is:  Is that really what this is about?  Let consider something a little more deeper.

If you’ve read my past post about gay marriage, you know that I cannot deny that homosexuality is a sin.  There is no doubt about it.  The Bible says it.  However, there are so many Christians that want to single that out as a sin that seems worse than any plague this world has ever known.  It’s as if it is one of the top five most horrible sins ever in the history of mankind, right up there with trying to take “God” out of the pledge of allegience, as if making sure these things don’t happen will win everybody over to Christ.  On the contrary, all it seems some Christian are trying to do is to keep their life from getting a little uncomfortable.

So why all the reaction against homosexuality?  Is it just a traditional reaction?  Are some just trying not to be uncomfortable?  Is it because we’ve never had to deal with it and don’t want to?

I read an interesting blog post earlier this month where the author spoke about how so many were withdrawing their support from World Vision because they felt that homosexuals shouldn’t be involved in a ministry like that. Yet. the author also pointed out that there are many in churches today that are unbiblically divorced, and some remarried, and, therefore, by Jesus’ words are adulterers, that are in ministries, even marriage ministries, but Christians hardly consider it an issue, even within the author’s own church. This is only one of many  examples, however, of how some blatant sins are winked at, that are “covered with grace”, but for some there seems to hardly be a shred of grace for.

Why are we letting some sins go and some we are so adamitly against.  Where is the balance?  Where is truth?

So why shouldn’t homosexuals be able to get married?  Why is it such a big issue?  All homosexuals see is that Christians think they shouldn’t be able to do what you can do because they are not you.  As you preach love, you come across to them as selfish and unloving.  And for what?

When I read the Bible, I see Jesus eat with and talking to sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans…you know, the scum of the earth in those days.  He was speaking truth to them about God, life, their own sin, and who He was.  He was not condoning their sin, but He was not keeping them from doing it either.  He told them the truth and let them decide if they wanted to follow Him or go their own way.  The ones that I see Jesus condemning are the Pharisees, the ones that twisted God’s commands to suit themselves, laid heavy burdens on people that they couldn’t carry, and wondered how anyone like Jesus could eat with tax collectors and sinners.

So why make a big deal about homosexuality and gay marriage?  Why try to make sinners not sin?  Why not make a big deal about dealing with the ridiculous divorce rate in churches, the false teachers that influence Christian culture, encouraging one another to live holy, blameless lives, and being a part of the worldwide Body of Christ by reflecting Him in this lost world?

As far as World Vision, there seems to be an issue not being discussed about it. World Vision is considered a Christian organization and is considered to be teaching Christian values to these children. It is supposed to be more that just sponsoring a child to keep them fed and clothed. If that is all it is, there are plenty of secular and even “religious” organizations that will feed and clothes men, women, and children all the way up until they die and go to hell because they do not teach Christ. Yet, World Vision says that they not only feed and clothe them, but also teach the children about Christ. Now, if you have a Christian organization that is teaching children about Christ and His teaching and practically endorsing open sin by having not only homosexuals, but also married homosexuals, they are distorting Christ and his teaching. While it sounds great that the children would learn how loving Christians can be toward everybody, no matter what the sin, they would also learn that homosexuals can be Christians and Christians think being homosexual is fine, when in actuality, it’s not. It’s sin that Jesus does not endorse.

I do not say this just because it’s homosexuality. No, I think the Christian culture is a bit hyper-political about it. However, if World Vision were to announce that they changed their policy to hire  people in other relationships while still married (adulterers), people who happily engage in premarital sex, Muslims (remember it’s a Christian org teaching Christ), people who openly use God’s name as a curse word (blaspheme), or people who frequently get drunk, I would not hesitate to revoke all sponsorship that I may have with them and encourage others to do the same. It’s not the issue of is it okay to hire homosexuals, it’s the issue of how are the people being helped going to take it when they realize that the Jesus World Vision represents is not the total Jesus of the Bible.

There has to be a balance.  I can see where people are at that want to emiphasis the truth of homosexuality being a sin.  I can see where people are at that want to show the love of Christ.  But, those are one and the same in Christ.  He is full of truth AND grace and we are his representatives.

If the point is to just feed and clothe children, there are plenty organizations out there that will do it without putting Jesus’ name behind it.  That way, the children won’t realize that Christians are liars just so they’d get people in their club.

Jesus said to follow HIM!


Remember Where You Came From

5 08 2012

There is always the temptation to “think of ourselves higher than we ought to think” (Romans 12:3), especially as Christians.  We understand sin a little better than those who do not know God.  God says He hates sin and so should we.  The problem comes when we lift ourselves up above others because we don’t do THAT particular sin.

There was a time in life when you did not know anything about God.  You followed after your own lusts and desires, doing whatever you wanted as long as other people or the law didn’t find out.  I was there too.  Actually, every Christian was there at some point.

“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  –  1 Corinthians 6:9-11

You were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” Ephesians 2:5

I write this post because it’s easy to get caught up in looking down at people who do “that” sin, whatever that may be.  Have we forgotten where we were at one time?

If you have never smoked a cigarette in your life, can you still see yourself conversing with someone who hasn’t been able to give it up yet, even if it’s disgusting to you?

Can you understand that people sin by nature, even you?

The big “sin” today seems to be homosexuality.  Can you start and keep a conversation with a homosexual and treat them as a human being?  Or are you better than they because you would never do “that”?

Can you go beyond the “sin” of others and consider that they are a human being just like you?

Can you understand that all sin is against God, even the one that you still commit and hold on to?

Once again, when I post these things, it is not to push a certain agenda.  I write to challenge you to live for Christ.  Jesus had every right to point to others and say, “I’m better than you.  I know God.  You don’t.”  (Well, He did say that, but not in a derogatory way.)  He ate and hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners telling the them the truth about God and their sin.  He had compassion on them, yet resisted those that resisted Him.

My point in all this scattered thought is this:  There was a time you did not know God and was living is sin just like everyone else.  If a “Christian” had come up to you in those days and said some of the things you say today, would you have been drawn to Christ?  If a Christian would have just said, “God doesn’t like that.  That’s wrong!  Your going to hell because of that”, would you immediately be drawn to a Savior?  Probably not.

Homosexuals are real people that have real histories, emotion, cares, likes and dislikes, jobs, and whatever else that we have.  You know what?  So do atheists, agnostics, murderers, rapists, liars, thieves, gossipers,  those filled with hate, lust, anger, and the like.  Such were some of you, my friends!  Don’t forget that.

I wish I could put all this into better terms.  I guess this is where I need to just let the Holy Spirit work.  He doesn’t need me to be eloquent to convict.  I just get a little tired of Christians talking like other people’s sin is so beyond them.  Either they have forgotten where they came from or have never really understood their sin to begin with.

No matter where your at, never think that because you have never struggled with a certain sin that  1.) other people don’t,  2.) other people do but you can’t help them, or 3.) you are ever beyond struggling with it sometime in your life.

“Let anyone who thinks that he stands be careful lest he fall.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12

So, remember where you came from.  You were, still are, and will always be a sinner…just like everyone else is.  If not, you no long need a Savior…just like everyone else needs a Savior.

Also, remember that Jesus said to follow Him!

The Dislocated Body of Christ

14 07 2012

What I want to post about is an issue of so much importance.  Yet, I don’t even know how to start it.

How is it, O Christian, that you look down at your brother that doesn’t believe just like you?

How is it that you judge your sister because she thinks speaking in tongues is for real and you do not?

Why do you seclude yourself from the Christian couple down the street just because they are “King James only”?

Can you have fellowship with an “Arminian”?  Or are you too good for that because you claim to believe in “Calvinism”?

If you are more prone to show mercy, do you think those that “tell it like it is” are too merciless and judgmental?

Of course, these are just a sampling of questions to prove a point.  I am not here right now to debate and argue about these matters.  The point in this post is to say that those that follow Christ are to be united as a “Body” and we are doing an absolute awful job at it.

While Christians smile, have happy faces, and raise their hands while singing in church, I must admit that they can be just as judgmental as the people outside the church.  (By judgmental, I don’t mean merely having an opinion as many think is judging, but looking down at others.  More on that in a later post.)  One person might think all “Baptists” aren’t really “in touch with God”.  One may think all “Pentecostals” are heretics because they speak in tongues.  Some “Pentecostals” may think everyone is wrong if they don’t speak in tongues.  One may believe that God alone brings a sinner to repentance and despises others who believe that people make that decision themselves.  I could go on and on.  I hope you get the idea.

Fellow followers of Jesus Christ, these thing must not be this way.  We are not only doing damage to ourselves as a “Body”, but also saying to the world, “Hey, we can’t agree and can’t stand each other.  But, come on in anyway!  We will try our best to like you.  You just need to believe everything just the way we do.”

Personal evaluation time:  Can you have fellowship with someone that doesn’t believe just like you?  I am not talking about the major doctrinal things that are in plain black-and-white in the Bible.  I am talking about the little things that you constantly hear come up and being debated.  If you’re a “Baptist”, can you have enjoyable fellowship with a “Pentecostal”, “Lutheran”, or “Non-Denominational” Christian and vise-versa?  Or does it bother you so much that “those people” are “wrong” that you shun them away?  What if another Christian is actually wrong about something?  Can you go to them gently and with sincerity let them know?

For example:  You meet a “Lutheran” or “Presbyterian” who may believe it’s okay to baptize babies.  Maybe you meet a Baptist that doesn’t baptize babies, but rather does a “baby dedication” and believe in 3 of the 5 points of Calvinism.  What is the first thing that comes to mind?  Do you automatically get a sour look on your face and think to yourself, “That’s just wrong!”?  Do you automatically start a debate about what you disagree with?  Are you sure you’re the right one?  Do you have to make sure you let the other know your right?

Don’t get me wrong.  There are surely things (and people) that we must stand our ground on, defend, and reject.  It has to, however, be perfectly in line with what God says in Scripture.  I am not talking about those things here.  I am talking about silly things we can easily get carried away with arguing and defending that we reject a brother or sister for whom Christ died.  We end up cutting part of the Body off and saying with our actions, “I have no use for you for you are not a (insert body part here) like me.”

But enough of my words.  What does God say to us through His Word?

First, are you separating yourself from a follower of Christ who may not understand as much as you?

    “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.”  Romans 14:1
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”  Romans 15:1

Pretty much the whole 14th chapter and some of the 15th chapter of Romans deal with those whose faith and understanding are weaker than than others. Another good passage is 1st Corinthians 8 where Paul writes about eating meat offer to idols and making those weaker to stumble.   There are so many grey issues that people have different opinions about because God decided not to make plain for some reason.  One person believes such-and-such is sin while another does not.  Is it plain-as-day a sin in the Scriptures or just your conviction?  If God did not plainly say it, why do you judge another as if He did?  If someone worships God with rock music, then with rock music he worships while another thinks that you should only worship with hymns.  So what?  There are just some things that are not worth dividing the Body of Christ over.

Do you think yourself  “more spiritual” and know more about the Scriptures than others do?  Do not look down at them!

 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  … Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. – Roman 12:3-16

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? … If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” …Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27

I guess my challenge to you is this:  Do not make trivial matters that are not black-and-white in Scripture major dividing issues, even if YOU think they are.  Indeed, if people are preaching a different gospel, as Paul says, let them be cursed of God.  (Galatians 1:8)  But if you are making a big deal and dividing the Body about differences in understanding God and His Word, you need to check yourself.  You or I will NEVER understand God or His Word perfectly this side of eternity.  Therefore, do not act like you do and tear someone else down that doesn’t think just like you.

I wish I could think of the perfect words to bring the “Body of Christ” back together, but it will take peoples eyes being opened, repentance, and a move of God in our hearts.  Unfortunately, the world can see what we are doing with each other. We need to come together despite our some of our petty differences and honor God as the Body of Christ.  Can you do it?    How can the world truly know we are Christ’s disciples if all we do is argue with each other?

“By this all with know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

Jesus said to follow Him!

Interesting thoughts from an ex-pastor and ex-Christian

20 02 2012

During the past week, I came across an interesting blog.  A man I work with had mentioned a name of a preacher that he recommended I look into.  I “Googled” the preachers name and clicked onto a blog that mentioned this name.  Little did I know that what this blogger said would be so relevant to some of the things I wanted to say in this blog.

His name is Bruce Gerencser and his blog is called “Fallen from Grace”.  He tells his history as one who became a Christian at the age of 14 and started preached at 15.  He was a Christian for (I think) 33 years and a Baptist pastor for 25 of those years.  But through certain circumstances, thoughts, observations, and learning, he has not only denied the faith he once had, but also denies the existence of God, or at least doesn’t know if a God exists.

The reason I bring him up and was reading his blog is that he made some very fascinating and extremely valid statements about the Church and Christians in general.  What he has seen inside and outside the church is most likely what the world sees when they look at the church.  Although he is an agnostic (yet he was a Baptist pastor for 25 years) he has articulated the gospel and many other theological matters in his blog better than many Christians can.

I will be quoting him here every so often to challenge you to live your life as Christ.  If you are a follower of Christ, then follow HIM diligently.  Do you live according to how your church tells you how to live, or on how Christ tells you how you should live?  Do you know your Bible enough to know what your church says is true or are you treating your pastor/preacher as a god and just taking for granted what is said?

One of the points that Bruce makes is that people don’t see Christ in us.  People see church as a social club and Christians as hateful, unconcerned, ultra-conservatives that want to force our political views on the whole country.  I can see where he is coming from.  He makes many good points.  I do not consider myself a liberal Christian by any means.  However, how are we going to reach this world without concern and compassion for them?  How are we going to reach them if we ourselves don’t show Christ to this world instead of expecting the “church” to do it.  If the world is attracted (some how) to a church because of what they do, but find the people in the church live and act just as they do, what will compel them to follow Christ if the people in the church don’t themselves.

Bruce wrote:

The Christian Church is very effective in turning people into atheists and agnostics.  If you want to change this trend stop talking and start living.

How are you living your life, O Christian?  Are you living just like the ones you want to bring to your church?  Would they be attracted to Jesus or turned away because of you?  Do you care about others?  Do you show concern, consideration, and compassion to others or are you just in your own “Christian world”?  If you talk to others about the gospel, do you try to find out who they are, where they come from, and genuinely care…or just take the time to hit them with the Bible enough to get your point across?

I could go on.  I will in later posts.  Unfortunately, there are many people that have been turned off to church and Christianity because of something someone in the church or who claims to be a Christian has done to them (or not done to them).  It’s time we stepped up, both men and woman, to live as Christ, not as the church, has taught us.  If you don’t know what that means, read your Bible and ask God for wisdom.

You now know Bruce’s name and the name of his blog.  I did not link to his blog on purpose.  He gets bombarded by “loving” Christians that just want to throw the Bible at him, tell him he’s going to hell, argue endlessly with him, but not even try to care about him or where he’s coming from.  Honestly, those things just make his stance more concrete as it shows that people just want to “win him back for Jesus” and then leave him once they have that notch on their belt.  Put yourself in his shoes and it looks like everyone’s just trying to “score one for the Lord”.  If you want to check out his blog you can Google it but contact him at your own risk.

Remember Jesus calls us to follow Him, not the church, pastors, or any other people or things.  Follow Him.