I need to be honest with you. I have been disappointed a lot this week. By and large, a majority of that disappointment has centered around the Church. More specifically, the American Evangelical Church. (I think it needs to be noted that the Pope is a rockstar and revolutionizing the Catholic Church simultaneously).
In case you’ve been living under a rock this week, I am primarily referring to the back and forth decision making of World Vision. It left a larger wake of wounded in its path than they thought to think about. Although there have been plenty of blog posts written in response to their decisions (and particularly their reversal), here are a couple I found particularly helpful or identified the most with: Rachel Held Evans & Red Letter Christians.
I debated about penning my own response since there were already so many other eloquently written blog posts. And yet, I couldn’t let it go. I honestly think it was making my soul sick. So, I’m writing, in part, to purge my soul of the infection that I’ve foolishly let fester over the week.
Last Monday, I read a passage in Isaiah that really struck a chord with me:
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.”
This passage came at a time where I was feeling particularly discouraged. I’m working two jobs. One that pays the bills (which is not bad!), but the other one fulfills a deeper need to be apart of making the world better. With more and more time being spent at the former rather than the latter, I’ve been feeling inadequate lately. There’s so much need and I’m not doing enough! Helloooooo, Messiah Complex.
Caught between two worlds, I’ve wondered a lot lately what is the point of the struggle. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been losing my soul in exchange for paying my bills. So, the promise of this passage was one that I took to the bank!
When War of the World [Vision] hit, my soul was in the midst of recovering. It was like kicking someone when they’re down when I learned that people were actually pulling their funding from World Vision. WHAT. It still blows my mind. Here I was trying to figure out if I was giving enough, doing enough, praying enough, thinking enough, etc. and people were giving up doing something that is good over a theological debate?!
To add insult to injury, I think it would be naive to assume that World Vision’s reversal of its decision was not largely financially motivated either. I really hate what money does to people. That being said, why should World Vision have to decide between the two in the first place?!
Feeling particularly righteous, I thought about Jesus’ words in Matthew about who would inherit the Kingdom:
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
– Matthew 25:35-36
But before I could feel particularly too high on my horse, I remembered:
3 “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:3
Where there is no love, we are all wrong. It’s just as wrong for me to secretly detest the American Evangelical Church for its hatred and lack of love as they are to bully World Vision into picking the lesser of two evils.
It’s. all. wrong.
So, here I am, just as flawed as anyone else, trying my best to love my way out of this one. Does it mean that I’m not still feeling sore about it? No. Does it mean that I’m pleased with the way that the Church has acted this week? No. But I also have a healthy acknowledgement of the mirror and I recognize that change begins within me first. And as much as I want to sometimes, I cannot walk away from the Church. We need each other too much. And the world needs us too. Jesus came to teach us a different way– a radical way to love.
So, we gotta lay down the torches, take up our crosses, and walk the extra mile.
May God bless us all as we endeavor to love each other well.