Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Legalism gone all kinds of wrong #worldvision

I have been contemplating writing a blog post titled "Your doctrine is wrong!" I wanted to talk about the diversity between the calvinists vs. the Arminianists (yes, that's a real thing) and the continuationists vs. the cessationists, the pre-tribbers vs the post-tribbers, the pro-lifers vs the pro-choicers, and a million other doctrinal "bones of contention" that we in "the Body" get all caught up on. And I might still write it somewhere along the way - or I might just tell you now.

Everybody who gets to heaven is going to get there by GRACE, and ALL of us are going to have SOMETHING in our doctrine that's WRONG. If you could get it all right on your own, you would not need the Savior who came to rescue you, would you?

Now I am NOT saying doctrine doesn't matter. I'm not even saying God doesn't want us to get it right, but we won't. Somewhere in all things we are going to screw it up, get it wrong, flat out blow it. But it's ok, because the doctrine isn't the point. Jesus is. You get to heaven on WHO you know, not WHAT you know. Now let's all gather together IN UNITY in a giant collective sigh of relief for that TRUTH! Jesus is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life - and He is the path to the Father and our eternity in heaven.

That's the ONE thing that matters. Jesus - the Head.

But that doesn't seem to stop us in the Body from getting all riled up and our panties in a wad when we cannot agree on things of doctrine. In fact, many (most?) of us are willing to draw a big old fat line in the proverbial sand and declare war against one another over topics that while they may be important, are simply not critical.

I got an email this morning that has just sunk my heart into the pit of my stomach. A "Christian organization" is calling out for believers to abandon ship off of the World Vision wagon because they have made a decision about allowing Christians in "legal gay marriages" to work on their staff. They have always held what you could call a moral purity clause (lots of Christian organizations, churches, etc, do) that says no one in the organization can be involved in sex outside of the marriage covenant, or partake of pornography etc. It's an honor system clause at best. But it's there nonetheless. But with the great divide within the Church about gay marriage they have not taken a stand in any direction on the topic of marriage as a whole - they've just decided not to ban people from employ. In all honesty, I suspect they are getting a jump ahead of likely being sued by someone if they held the ban. I don't know, but it is QUITE possible (though only conjecture on my part) that for the sake of the "bigger picture" of continuing their worldwide ministry to impoverished children, they have decided that this is a battle they won't choose to fight. (No one is called to choose them all.)

Here's a screenshot of the letter from my phone. Tim Wildmon, who lists himself as a the President of the American Family Association has called for a boycott of World Vision ministries. He's not just suggesting that people no longer support the ministry, but he's asking (demanding?) that those who already do support children through it should pull their sponsorships. Wait?? WHAT???

Honestly, my first (somewhat angry) thought is, how can you call yourself "pro-family"?? And in my heart I want him to get off his offended moral high horse and stop thinking about a (doctrine based) agenda and think about the hundreds of thousands of poor families that would be impacted if they follow through with his exhortation. These are PEOPLE, man, not statistics!

His suggestion is to support kids through other organizations that "stay true to the gospel." But my problem there is this, it's not just "other organizations," it would mean "other kids."

My family supports a little girl named Rahel, she's 13 and lives in Tanzania and a 12 year old boy named Jose from the Dominican Republic. It's not like I can call up Compassion International and say "Hey, can you please send my money to help these two kids we have been supporting since 2009. They were quite intentionally chosen to be the same ages as my younger two children. We have not been the kind of pen pals I would have liked, but we have helped sustain their family for 4 1/2 years. And we did it because we believe the Lord wanted us to. And these two kids were chosen by us, and every year we get updates about them. And Mr. Wildmon thinks I ought to dump them over a doctrinal issue??

a scripture comes to my mind as I contemplate all this. It's from the first chapter of James, 27th verse:

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I can already here the debate over the "unspotted from the world" portion of the scripture, but I don't think that's where the focus of this verse is at all. I think the meat here is in the ministry, and the ministry is to the poor and the needy, and at the end of the day, that's where my money is headed. It's not headed to the support of the (sort of) doctrine or World Vision, it's directed towards reaching out and helping little Rahel and Jose, who by the way don't (and shouldn't) have a CLUE about the doctrinal discussions about gay marriage.

I'm going to be honest, I did have an impulse to unsubscribe to my AFA newsletter. Perturbed at the sentiments of Mr. Wildmon, I was ready to walk away. Then I thought of something my pastor said to me once that holds true here. He said, "We don't have to see eye to eye to walk arm in arm."

As Christians, forgive the pun, we need to get a bigger "world vision." We need to get over the legalism that sucks the love out of truth and replaces it with the division of doctrine. The Truth is simple:

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost - which at one point or another we ALL were. He's using World Vision (despite their imperfections, which they have no matter what your stand on gay marriage is) to reach out and bring Jesus and personal provision to little kids all over the world. However imperfectly, they are being the "hands and feet" of Jesus.

Likewise, I am certain that the AFA is accomplishing valuable ministry "in Jesus' name." But nothing makes Satan happier than when he can pit God's people against each other over the details of "religion" and overshadow the value of relationship. This letter that the AFA sent out is legalism gone all kinds of wrong.

I hope people are not listening to this call to boycott. I know Mr. Wildmon and his ministry have been put into a position of influence, but before you let him influence you in this way, I want you to look at these two precious kids, and to think about them SPECIFICALLY, and the hundreds of thousands kids who are JUST LIKE THEM - REAL, INDIVIDUAL, SPECIFIC PEOPLE who have needs, physical, emotional, personal and eternal. All of which World Vision is playing a part in meeting. Don't abandon these kids. And if you're not a World Vision Sponsor, consider stepping up for the kids who are being let down in the name of doctrine and legalism.