Rousing Her Radiance: Day 23
How Solid Witnesses Unite a Divided Church
‘Modern man listens to witnesses more than teachers.’- Pope Paul VI
Marco and Ania shared candidly of divides in their personal lives that disqualified them for marital love: homosexuality, sexual abuse, promiscuity. More importantly, they witnessed how Jesus saved them from the ground up and united them as husband and wife. All through the help of this beautiful Church of ours!
The ‘out and proud’ may threaten to divide the Church. Witnesses of Divine Mercy heal Her.
Last week at our international gathering of Living Waters leaders, we gathered to pray for our divided Church. I noticed that about half the circle came out of same-sex-attracted backgrounds. We gathered around each and laid hands on that one from Germany, this Frenchmen, that Lithuanian woman, this Filipino leader, etc. Surrounded by the faithful, Jesus is doing a deep work of integration in each through faithful communities that surround him or her.
‘Would you burn for Him if asked to declare what He has done and is doing in your life?’ We kept praying and I saw Jesus igniting them as torches and lighting up their corner of the world. How many more are out there? Jesus is moving to reclaim a people for Himself—not only for their salvation but also for the saving of many lives!
Most churches do a poor job addressing sexual matters, Catholics especially. ‘Professional’ Christians struggle to be vulnerable. The clerical abuse scandals tighten the muzzle on those who need to disclose ‘below the belt’ issues. The answer: buoyant, hopeful witnesses who declare the Gospel by describing modestly their source of shame (no euphemisms—we need to know what you are talking about) that Jesus assumed in His dying and the new life now pouring out from the indwelling Spirit that raised Jesus! All through the community of God. Glorious!
A well-spoken witness invites us all to confess our need for His saving love in our particulars. Persuasive is one’s winsome recounting of how glorious Jesus helped her overcome shame. Three truths shine forth: power of the Gospel to encounter sinners and love us into repentance, power of Jesus to love us down to the ends of ourselves till we concede to His design for our sexuality, and the power of Jesus’ members to love us throughout.
Last week I was asked to be on a panel in the middle of a big conference. Much good information. I was asked to share how I help poor people. I shared my poverty and how Jesus made me rich through His Church. All I had to do, I said, was to humble myself and remain ruthlessly honest till I was free. Such recounting roused the saints.
The Church healed us. Still does. That’s the good news. How churchmen hurt or confused us is one thing; how the Radiant Bride restores us is another. She is radiant–a marvel of compassion and clarity that sets us free. Our stories tell that truth better than anything.
‘Jesus, we grieve over Your divided Church but glory in how You are uniting Her, making Her shine. Teach us to raise our voices well to make known Your faithfulness through Her. She reveals You to us, full of grace and truth. Out of gratitude, we “proclaim Your justice, and do not conceal Your love and truth from the great assembly”’ (Ps. 40:9-10).
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’