True Worship 1
We approach our fortieth anniversary bash this week; I am grateful, full of peace and praise for Jesus. In charting the breakthroughs and breakdowns throughout our four decades, I declare assuredly: ‘Lord, You establish peace for us; everything we have accomplished, You have done for us, O God’ (Is. 26:12).
At core He made Himself known to me, handing Himself over to this slave of sin. My eyes opened to behold Jesus-Savior. The knowledge of Him freed me to know myself as a man created for woman. He has empowered me to represent Him (unevenly, but always in earnest!) as a husband and father. For this I rejoice, body, soul and spirit—O God, You are Almighty Mercy, able to deliver Your creation from idolatry and self-delusion, and to free us for fruitfulness!
Pity those who split who God is from who He made them to be! This delusion is growing in the Church today—more than any other trend in our culture, I lament the deception of ‘LGBT+ Christians’ who claim devotion to Jesus while clinging to old identities and affections sourced in the father of lies, not Light. Whether it be the ‘gay’ Christian Revoice movement, Fr. James Martin’s burning ‘bridge’ in the Catholic Church, Wesley Hill’s version of ‘spiritual friendship’, or a host of recent books on the topic (the author of IVP’s SSA and the Church tips his hat toward transformation then stalls as a man mired in his ‘gay’ condition), the body of Christ seems hell-bent on making peace with LGBT+ ‘nature.’ Have we His members, lost sight of our Head who came to redeem our fallen natures? Such blindness is gnostic—splitting our spirits from our bodies and giving disordered desires the upper-hand to determine personhood.
We all need to reread Romans 1:18-32—the most substantial discourse in Scripture on homosexual conduct. St. Paul sources his understanding of sexual disorder on who God is and who humanity is based on ‘nature’, what Dr. Robert Gagnon defines as ‘the material order of things.’ Paul’s greatest theological letter opens by deeming humanity responsible for discerning the true God and for worshipping Him accordingly. Or we can do what Paul describes as the excesses evident in Rome: we deny the One and in darkness lose sight of our own created selves, sexually-speaking. This double-barreled descent into idolatry is at once spiritual —the worship of false gods—and sexual, the worship of the creature in the form of homosexual lust (1:24-27).
Heavy stuff. Could St. Paul be indicting us for how we have split our knowledge of the living God from His intention for our sexual selves? How else might we understand the unravelling of sexual order in our day? Has God handed 21st century citizens over to lustful rebellion, just as He did idolaters in Paul’s day?
Gratefully, St. Paul in Romans does not condemn sexually addictive persons but rather invites Jews first then the rest of us into the saving power of Jesus. The Apostle is clear: the domination of sin and rebellion can only be broken by faith in Jesus Christ. How can we be saved from our native idolatry, be it pious preening or exotic gender-bending? We cry out to Jesus-Savior and we worship Him!
We are back where we started. Jesus who with the Father made us: we worship Him. We return to Him who redeems us: Jesus breaks the hard heart and dissolves its filth. We worship Him and we are sustained. We go forward toward our future: eternal worship of the One. We bust idolatry by worshipping Jesus and allowing Him to restore our true personhood, including our sexual humanity.
For making Yourself known to us, we worship You Jesus. For freeing us to be who You made us to be, we worship You. For forty years of discipling others to worship You in spirit and truth, we give You praise, glory, and honor.
‘I urge you all, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will’ (Rom. 12:1, 2).
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