The struggles of the church are many, most complicated, and fraught with political factions from all sides. We have just returned from General Conference which many people describe as “so nasty that they must have left Jesus at the door.” Is that wonderful words for a delegate to use in describing the meeting of the church which stressed “Holy Conferencing.” It is amazing to me that we in the church keep Jesus at the door while we discuss His Bride with words that should not be used in reference to the church.
It is amazing to me that 12 million people in the United Methodist Church all have a different take on what the church should be doing and what is most important in our calling as the church. We have our own agendas and many will do everything they can to see that their agenda comes out on top. Either my way or the highway. Either my way or I will make you pay. That is a very sad indictment against the church and those called to serve and lead.
In the fourth century a little monk named Telemachus from Asia (modern day Turkey comprises the Roman province of Asia; or perhaps Asia Minor is meant), was led by an inner voice to go to Rome without knowing why. He followed the crowds to the Coliseum. Two gladiators were fighting, and Telemachus tried to get between them to stop them, shouting three times, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” Telemachus was killed by being run through with the sword of one of the gladiators. When the crowd saw the little monk lying dead in a pool of blood, they fell silent, leaving the stadium, one by one. Because of Telemachus’ death, three days later, the Emperor by decree ended the Games.
One person can make a difference if we are willing to give our lives in the service of the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Our calling, as the church, is not to decide who is worthy. Our job and only job… our calling and only calling is to love without qualification, without questions, without excuse. Love no matter what. Love no matter who. Love no matter how.
Don’t get all caught up in the trivial matters of faith, the words used to describe your faith, the name of your denomination or anything else. Will you love as Jesus loved.
Back in college in the 1970’s we were taking a New Testament course from my friend Dr. Horace Maness… a man I dearly loved and respected. Dr. Maness had given his lecture on beliefs. At the end we asked: “Never mind what you teach, tells us what you personally believe.” Dr. Maness thought for a moment and finally answered: “In the end love will win against all evil!” We thought it was a cop out on his part. However, the older I become, the more complicated the world becomes, the more difficult and personal the issues are which face the church, the more I realize how very profound were the words of this PhD. in religion. The last hope of all belief and hope is will God win in the end. If not all this is for nothing. If God wins then we are part of that victory. When all else fails or is in question this is what really matters.
So are we contributing to the love of Christ in this world or are we contributing to the division which finds no place for the Jesus of the Cross and the Jesus of the Basin? Where are the words of the Spirit taking you. I pray that we are joining hands and hearts to love and lift the lives of ALL humanity.
Grace and Peace