Hello. My name is Jason. I am a United Methodist. I have been a United Methodist for as long as I remember. I am a United Methodist clergyperson. I am about to have a stream of consciousness rant in the sentences that follow.
As I write, delegates representing the worldwide movement of the United Methodist Church are gathered in Portland, Oregon for our General Conference.
There seems to be a bit of a “charged spirit” as the delegation gathers. There is a lot of divisiveness within the family. That divisiveness is fuel to the fire. The divisiveness is mostly attributed to our debate on human sexuality.
My brothers and sisters on the more conservative side feel our Book of Discipline is already too inclusive. They speak of “biblical faithfulness” in firming up our stance on homosexuality, marriage and ordination.
My brothers and sisters on the more progressive side feel our Book of Discipline is not inclusive enough. They speak of “biblical faithfulness” in becoming more inclusive when it comes to homosexuality, marriage, and ordination.
My brothers and sisters who are more moderate, well, they tend to get lost in the mix.
The two sides are putting their rods in the sand. There are calls for division, schism, an amicable split. There are calls for unity.
My question is this, what does our in-fighting do for our faithful witness? When the world sees us squabbling about what divides, does that present the light, hope, love, grace, peace, mercy, and compassion of Christ?
For me, “Christ as Lord” is what unites me with my more moderate and conservative brothers and sisters. I may not agree with their theological, political, or social views. But, I believe that they are doing their best to serve and honor “Christ as Lord”. So, if we cannot agree on matters of human sexuality, well, I’m not sure it’s the biggest issue facing our church today. The biggest issue is how all of this impacts our witness of a loving God.
Wesley challenged us to “do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.” Jesus implied that “they will know you by your love”. Jesus also implied that those who do His will, who love God and neighbor, who practice humility, justice and mercy will be the ones who inherit the Kingdom.
Jesus didn’t say anything about the Book of Discipline. Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality. Jesus seemed less concerned on who was right and who was wrong, and more on who practiced humility, justice, mercy and love.
So, I wonder if our divisiveness is simply an adventure in missing the point? We seem to be more focused on that which divides us.
Can you imagine the powerful witness the UMC could have if we would simple unite around the Way of Jesus?