Why I stay…

I frequently ask myself why I stay with the PC(USA)?  The denomination seems to continue to merrily skip  down the road to perdition, all too often celebrating that things that break the heart of God, standing for the things scripture speaks against, and lifting up those whom God himself may well have cast down. Harsh words to be sure.  I admit, but in the words of Martin Luther – “I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other.”

In spite of the fact that scripture says so clearly – “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another…” (Romans 1:25-26) – the Presbyterian Church (USA) celebrates the aberrant expression of sexualities represented by the LGBTQ movement.

In spite of the Lord’s condemnation of the Israelites who burned their children in the fire (2 Kings 16, 17, 21; Jeremiah 7, 19, 32; Ezekiel 20), the Presbyterian Church (USA) continues to support both abortion and a woman’s right to choose that option.

In spite of the fact that scripture tells us that a leader should be – above reproach, faithful to his wife. temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect – we continue to find a level and commonness of moral decline and neglect among our clergy and laity that seems to model that more of Hollywood than of the Babe in Bethlehem.

And yet I stay.  I stay because I perceive myself to be called of God to proclaim the Good News, to call the elect to salvation, to remind the saved of their obligations, to bind up the broken-hearted and otherwise live out the Word of God. And as I reflect upon the mess in which the very part of His church which ordained me lies, I can think of no more appropriate place to preach, to proclaim, to call  back to faithfulness. Many of my friends have since departed some with their congregations, some apart from their congregations and there are times when I envy them. But for now I am staying and reminding folks of the Great and Awesome God we serve.

It calls to mind that great poem:

“So I Stand Near The Door” by Reverend Samuel Moor Shoemaker

“I stand near the door.

I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,

The door is the most important door in the world—

It is the door through which men walk when they find God.

There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,

When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I,

Crave to know where the door is.

And all that so many ever find

Is only the wall where a door ought to be.

They creep along the wall like blind men.

With outstretched, groping hands,

Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,

Yet they never find it . . .

So I stay near the door.

“The most tremendous thing in the world

Is for men to find that door—the door to God.

The most important thing any man can do

Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,

And put it on the latch—the latch that only clicks

And opens to the man’s own touch.

Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die

On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter—

Die for want of what is within their grasp.

They live, on the other side of it—live because they have found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,

And open it, and walk in, and find Him . . .

So I stand near the door.

“Go in, great saints, go all the way in—

Go way down into the cavernous cellars,

And way up into the spacious attics—

In a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.

Go into the deepest of hidden casements,

Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.

Some must inhabit those inner rooms,

And know the depths and heights of God,

And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.

Sometimes I take a deeper look in,

Sometimes venture a little farther;

But my place seems closer to the opening . . .

So I stand near the door.

“The people too far in do not see how near these are

To leaving—preoccupied with the wonder of it all.

Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,

But would like to run away. So for them, too,

I stand near the door.

“I admire the people who go way in.

But I wish they would not forget how it was

Before they got in. Then they would be able to help

The people who have not even found the door,

Or the people who want to run away again from God.

You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long,

And forget the people outside the door.

As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,

Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there,

But not so far from men as not to hear them,

And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door—

Thousands of them, millions of them.

But—more important for me—

One of them, two of them, ten of them,

Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch,

So I shall stay by the door and wait

For those who seek it.

‘I had rather be a door-keeper . . .’

So I stand near the door.”