Restraint and Refuge
As our culture embraces perversion as normal, we as the church must provide a sure path for those seeking the better way. That involves clear teaching on God’s design and redemption for those with same-sex attraction; more practically, it means opening our arms and hearts. The church must become the refuge for gays plucked from the fire. We must grant them a fighting chance to become reoriented around Jesus.
“Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people” (Is. 57:14)…”I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth” (Is. 42:16)…And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way.”(Is. 35:8)
God is using the gay marriage crisis. He wants to wake up the church to what is going on in the culture. He alerts us so that we can be ready to receive those He is calling off the path of destruction and onto His sure ground. We know we must restrain wickedness through the likes of Proposition 8. Will we also be a refuge for those plucked out of that wickedness?
Cindy, a female minister in a large urban center, was ready. She received Living Waters training and was about to start a group in her church. A woman high on drugs named Kate, alongside her lesbian lover, stumbled into a night meeting at the church. As a teen she had been abused for years by a high-ranking public official; the legal battle that ensued destroyed her young faith. She sought refuge in chemicals and same-sex sensuality. But she wanted Jesus.
Her lover wasn’t serious about the ‘God-thing’. But Kate was. She was embraced by the church, transformed by what God did through Living Waters (she needed a couple of rounds!), set boundaries with friends who did not support her commitment to holiness, and eventually became a dynamic minister in her own right.
God wants His little ones back! The church as a loving home can be snatched from one temporarily. But Jesus never stops reaching. He does so through wise and merciful saints like Cindy, who have made the church a refuge for those in transition.
Cindy looks for those seeking the better way. The prophet Joel describes them as:“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision. The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14) We fast and pray, then look out for those in the ‘valley.’
Many have been embraced by the gay community but know that they are not yet home. Home for them lies in Jesus and His design for their lives. No amount of sensual and emotional solidarity with one’s own gender can fill that void. Only a community founded on Jesus can establish those in the ‘valley’ on sure ground.
The day of the Lord is a day of judgment, a dark hour for those who have turned away from Jesus. Joel writes that “the sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars will no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.” (v.15, 16a)
A land given over to perversion invites God’s judgment. Unredeemed darkness in the creation provokes the Creator. It provoked Him so much that He (Father and Son) endured agony to win us back. Before the final judgment, He implores those in the valley to return to Himself, to secure refuge under the shadow of His cross.
“But the Lord will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for His own…” (Joel 3:16b)
Will we, the church, become that refuge, a welcoming community of that cross? The ‘Kates’ of this world have no other hope. In their hearts, they already know that only Jesus can secure them in love. Let us seek to embody that love as the people of Christ. Multitudes depend on us to be that living, welcoming refuge.
So we seek to restrain wickedness while offering refuge for those turning from it.
Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.
“Father, open our eyes to the multitude in the valley of decision. Help us to hear their cries and see their need, their supreme need for communion with You. And let us become that refuge, a living fortress endued with love more powerful than the seduction of this age. Make us a stronghold of mercy that liberates those captive by ungodly fear, shame, and perversion.”