I wish I could say they were “happy” tears… but no amount of wishful thinking would make it so.
They came from deep inside me, from that place of grief where Hope collides with Reality and comes away bruised. And the saddest thing about those tears was the place where they happened — in church this morning, as I heard a pastor preach.
In recent months, he has identified what he believes is a key “test” facing Your Church in the near-term future — the blessing of same-sex marriages by pastors. He appears determined to move in this direction, as an expression of “loving” people “unconditionally,” as You have loved us.
He cannot see how dearly You have loved each one of us, Lord. Loved us enough to meet us in the midst of whatever sin has trapped us. Loved us too much to leave us there. Loved us enough to speak Your Truth to us and invite us to turn away from that sin and toward You. Loved us enough to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves… to set us free. This is the love You have called us to… loving people, in grace and truth, to You — the only One who truly binds up broken hearts and sets captive free.
Oh, Lord… Have mercy!
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Although he has not openly raised this issue in the “traditional” service I normally attend, I hear how he is leading Your flock. I hear the words he says and the words he doesn’t yet say openly. I don’t doubt his good intentions, Lord, his desire to follow You in a radical lifestyle of love and grace. Yet I also don’t doubt the wisdom of that old saying about good intentions paving a road to a place none of us wants to go.
“Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39)
We are living in “landmark” days in the history of the world, on so many levels. The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to make what many anticipate will be a landmark decision concerning the future acceptance of same-sex marriages in our nation. The enemy has positioned the battle lines In such a way that there can be no valid differences of faith-inspired convictions. There is apparently no room to “agree to disagree.”
The choice is a stark one: Either agree, accept and embrace the same-sex agenda or be vilified as one who is legalistic, unloving, and homophobic. Even within Your Church, Lord? Speaking truth from Your Word about sin, even with great love and grace, is already (in many jurisdictions) being called “hate speech.” When will it become illegal?
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20)
More than a few businesses have been highlighted recently in the national news — e.g., a bakery that gladly served homosexual patrons but would not cater a cake for a same-sex marriage. The “scorched earth” backlash against that business forced it to close its doors. I spoke today with one sister-in-Christ who believes the Church will be required to perform same-sex marriages or be denied the right to perform any marriages at all.
FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.
A dear brother-in-Christ recently shared five steps that lead to persecution. I couldn’t help but notice how these steps were strategically mobilized against Jews in the days leading up to World War II… or how familiar they are starting to become in our own culture today as directed toward Christians.
1. RIDICULE. 2. VILIFY. 3. MARGINALIZE. 4. CRIMINALIZE. 5. PERSECUTE.
Maybe today’s tears were “necessary” because I was still going through those stages made famous by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her landmark work On Death and Dying — the stages people typically go through in responding to significant loss in their lives.
1. DENIAL. 2. ANGER. 3. BARGAINING. 4. DEPRESSION. 5. ACCEPTANCE.
I have experienced most of these stages, Lord, as I have seen love for Your Word and Your standards grow ever colder in our culture. It’s time for Acceptance within Your Remnant… isn’t it? Not “acceptance” in the sense of “going with the flow” of the culture; rather, acceptance of Your Call on our lives to go against its flow. To deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow You, Lord… even where it may be increasingly unpopular to go. Even when it may cost us what we never imagined would be possible in this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not Cheap Windows 10 Product Key destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9,16-18)
Am I ready, Lord, to hold fast to Your chain-breaking Truth, even if (when) I am ridiculed or vilified or marginalized or criminalized or persecuted? Am I ready, Lord, to love as You have loved me — even loving those who may (will) ridicule, vilify, marginalize, criminalize and persecute me?
It’s time to get ready… isn’t it, Lord?
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Drying my tears, trusting Your joy will be my (our) strength…