More Room: thoughts on World Vision
You may be aware that World Vision (the American branch) made big news this week by choosing to consider gay Christians for job openings within their company. 48 hours later, after an overwhelming outcry against the policy change, World Vision USA reversed their decision. If you’re interested in reading more about this, you may find this article from Christianity Today to be helpful.
I don’t often engage in controversy. In fact, I tend to shy away from it. But today, I’m writing because of some specific people I know.
I’m writing because of the friends that I have who love Jesus and who are also gay. I’m writing because of those who are attempting to wade into the turbulent waters of dating, those who have chosen celibacy and those who have entered into marriages. I write because I’ve listened to their words in tears. I have heard their stories and I have walked with them through journeys and prayer and wrestling. I have seen the compelling evidence. I have seen them make decisions that I’m not sure I would be strong enough to make. I have seen Jesus in them.
I’m writing because of people I know who look nervous when I say gay and Christian in the same sentence. I’m writing because of a friend who stopped me as I was talking about one of these lovely people once and said: “Well, there aren’t a lot of gay people like that, are there?”
I’m writing because Jesus nudged my heart and said: “It’s time.”
I stand right in the middle. As one of my favorite people, Sarah Bessey, says: “I’m too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives.” I have watched my mind change on a lot of things over the course of time. Many of you have been along for that journey. I love the Church, and I cling to her, even as I recognize that she is made up of humans.
I’ll be honest, I really wanted to figure out where I stood on all of this. I wanted to know for sure and set up camp there, to stay.
But I dearly love to be right.
I’ve learned to be thankful for my ambiguity. I’ve learned that things aren’t nearly as cut and dried as my human-sized mind would like them to be. I’ve learned that I would rather be right than be loving. I’d rather camp with the like-minded than reach out both of my hands. Perhaps it is because of my own broken ability to love that I can’t see this in black and white.
The faith, the joy, the love for God that I see in my gay brothers and sisters in Christ is not diminished or mitigated by their sexual orientation, in fact, sometimes I wonder if there are things that are seen more clearly through that lens.
Hanging out with these people, talking with them, getting to know them: this has been a blessing beyond measure, truly unexpected.
Sometimes, as I stumble through questions and discomfort and my own sin, I wonder why they keep engaging with me. As with so many people who have chosen conversation to creating distance, I see Jesus.
I’m also writing for the kids who are supported, not just by those who sponsor through World Vision, but all of the organizations who are choosing to act for the powerless, the vulnerable, and the poor (and not just in the third world). I’m writing for their parents, too. One of the things that tugged my heart this week was the way in which these little ones were depicted. I wanted to stand up and say: “It is not us that they need. It’s Jesus.” I don’t doubt that God uses human gifts of money to work in the world. I don’t doubt that God uses World Vision. Neither do I doubt that God uses gay Christians.
The God that I serve is not fazed by our disagreement (although that doesn’t mean He isn’t grieved by it). The God I know gets on with whatever thing He was planning to do, with or without my help, inside or outside of my comfort zone. I want to be there, too, leaning in to the Spirit. I don’t want to find myself fighting against God (or my brothers and sisters).
I’ve been a part of the left-out and even the leaving out in the church. I have watched from the fringes and I’ve pushed people away, mostly because I’ve been afraid. It is for this reason that I write for me too, the me I was and the me I am now. I have learned that God is bigger than my fear, my doubts and my limits. I have learned that there is always more room.
If you and I and everyone we know were in a room together, it is likely that we would find as many viewpoints as we found people. There is a beauty to this, a tribute to a God with limitless imagination. Still, I wish that our languages were finished with their confusion. I look forward to the day when we see and hear each other’s hearts. I pray, along with Jesus, just before He went to the cross:
I’m praying not only for them But also for those who will believe in me Because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, So they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.
(John 17:20-23 MSG)
If you’re interested in reading more voices on this topic, here are a few words from some friends. Naturally, there are countless more, but I’m borrowing words from these people for many of my prayers these days.
Ben Moberg (Registered Runaway)