Wednesday, March 26, 2014

World Vision & True Compassion

In light of the recent tizzy over World Vision’s decision to hold a “neutral” view on homosexuality within the believing community, World Vision -Why We Are Hiring Gay Christians in Same Sex Marriage I am putting my thoughts into writing.

(for update, scroll to bottom. Otherwise, the original post is as follows.)

Many pastors and church leaders whom I respect greatly have already released statements on the exact topic, and I wholeheartedly agree with them. I’m not here to write another statement. I’m here because this situation has spiraled other thoughts in my mind and I have the freedom to post them in a blog. 
But, you can check out the pastors’ statements here:

Yes, Homosexuality is a sin, along with every other kind of sexual immorality. (Romans 1, 1 Cor 6, 1 Timothy 1) And to not treat it as such is to accept it. But I want to look at this situation through a question my mind has asked: If the message of the gospel is compromised, is compassion even true compassion anymore? 

“Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, we serve alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.” Taken from World Vision’s website under “Why We Serve”
You can read more under their Core Values: World Vision: Who We Are 

I’ve seen this all over social media, and even where I haven’t seen it, I know there is a divide in the Christian community on whether or not to condone this action by World Vision. After all, are we really going to get up in arms over one little cultural/moral hot-spot when the lives of helpless children & families are at stake? Aren’t their lives most important?
Well, Yes. And Yes. I honestly don’t think you can have one without the other. And here’s why:
I believe without the true gospel being preached, when we show compassion on someone’s physical needs, we're really just giving them a more comfortable journey straight on their way to eternal separation from God. We’re saying, “Here, we love you! Live a long life with warm clothes on your back, shoes on your feet, a full belly, a job. God loves you!” While neglecting to share the terrible truth that they are in danger of facing judgement for their sin and  the wonderful truth that they don't actually have to face it because of God’s unconditional love for us demonstrated in Christ...  But no big deal, right? At least they’re better off than they were. Wrong. (And maybe you'd argue that World Vision hasn't thrown out the entire gospel message. You're right. It hasn't gone that far...yet.)

When the gospel is compromised in an attempt to better show compassion, I would go as far to say it’s no longer true Christian compassion.

You see, I’ve been studying Jesus’ Compassion - our model for showing compassion. When He was moved with compassion for someone physically, it ALWAYS fell under the shadow of his compassion for them spiritually, eternally. The gospel was foremost. That they believe in Christ as Savior and turn from their sin was the heart of his compassion. He didn’t stop there, but was ALSO moved with compassion for their physical needs. But if we as Christians today begin to reshape the gospel by allowing sin to be treated as not sin, the gospel we preach becomes corrupted and false. And the message of our compassion-showing organizations, whether intentionally or not, becomes “physical compassion is more important than spiritual compassion.” We’ve reversed Christ’s example.

In Matthew 9:35-38, it is recorded,
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 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.”

First, notice the order Matthew has listed Jesus’ actions “teaching...proclaiming the gospel...and healing every disease.” hmmmm.

After this, his compassion is pointed out as he looks over the crowds. Why? Because they are “like sheep without a shepherd.” And he says to his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful...pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” This harvest they are looking for isn’t just an unnaturally healthy and disease-free generation of people. The harvest is an eternal one of salvation through faith in Christ. He has compassion because they have no one to lead and guide them. They have no one to care for them. He is concerned primarily with their salvation, but as can be expected in his compassion, it doesn’t stop there. It continues with their physical need. 
We, as believers in this generation, CANNOT reverse Christ’s example. What was most important to Him MUST be most important to us, because it IS most important. I'm not saying a person should never do something physically compassionate before they share the gospel. Hopefully you see my point is that the spiritual compassion drives the physical. It is the foundation and springboard!

In general, human lives span less than a century. But for Christians who believe in eternity, well, our lives go on forever after our less-than-a-century on earth is up. And in that eternity, we either suffer under the wrath we deserve for our sin, or we're covered by Christ's righteousness and exempt from that wrath- worshipping in the presence of the Holy God! 

I believe that Christians must be positively adamant about protecting and sharing the true gospel. As we become more like Christ, we will begin to display true compassion to others. Not only in their spiritual need, but also in their physical needs. 

This is why I personally disagree with the stance World Vision has taken on homosexuality: It is deviating from the true gospel. 
This is why I personally think World Vision is ultimately shooting themselves in the foot with their stance: When we choose to not uphold the true gospel, we cannot display true compassion.

A beautiful sermon by C. H. Spurgeon inspires me greatly on this subject of Christ’s compassion. I wholeheartedly encourage you to take 15 minutes to read it, or print it out and mull over it later this week. It’s worth your time.

The Compassion of Jesus

Hoping my thoughts spark some of your own,

UPDATE: afternoon of 3/26

World Vision has released a letter stating that it is reversing its decision & why. Check it out here.

World Vision Reverses Decision

I am praising the Lord that they have responded in this way. I am thankful for the way this situation turned around, and I am also thankful for the time this caused me to sit and reflect on true compassion and its relationship to the gospel.