Here’s my lead article for the October, 2015, edition of the Circuit Rider. Feel free to respond!
As The United Methodist Church moves through the remainder of this year and on into 2016 (a General Conference year), it’s important that we keep in mind our primary task both as a denomination and as a congregation, which is “to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
This is an especially difficult focus to maintain in the midst of a society that sees the church as increasingly unimportant and its message irrelevant. And yet I would contend that ours is a message which is utterly relevant, one which responds to the ills and evils which are so prevalent in the world today in ways which bring hope and wholeness in the midst of a culture filled with despair and division.
That said, in an article entitled “The Church’s Most Important Issue is Not the One You Think It Is,” Bishop Gary E. Mueller of the Arkansas Annual Conference reminds us that, though there are issues that divide us, still what matters is how we comport ourselves through those divisions. (This is what I tried to say in my column last month in which I talked about disagreeing without becoming disagreeable.) Bishop Mueller writes: “Jesus the Christ became incarnate – and was crucified and resurrected – to transform the world. He brought the Church into being to carry out his mission. But we cannot do that as long as Christians are lobbing accusations back and forth, pointing fingers and proclaiming to those with whom we disagree, ‘You don’t belong to the Body of Christ because you don’t believe like me.’
“The Apostle Paul reminds us that we Christians are so joined together by the resurrection Christ that we actually are the living Body of Christ in the world. Jesus instructs us to love one another so that the world will know that we are his disciples. Not just when it’s convenient, not merely when we are comfortable and not only when it’s people just like us – but all the time.”
“Carry out his mission” – “joined together by the resurrection” – “instructs us to love one another” – “all the time” – these are watchwords that will challenge and accompany us as we move forward in ministry and service throughout the year, both here in Wooster and all around the world. May Jesus Christ be praised!