For the most part, I've been silent on issues relating to the United Methodist denomination's upcoming General Conference and all of the proposals for Unity or Separation. But there is something bothering me. Allow me to explain...
A lot of folks seem to say that the United Methodist Church is already divided because we can’t agree on certain divisive issues. The current one being homosexuality, same sex marriage, and other related issues. The divide can be boiled down to the interpretation of Scripture. Both sides firmly believing that scripture clearly supports their point of view.
I’ve heard some say that because we are already divided, we might as well make it official. They ask the question, “Why stay together at all?"
It’s simple really: LOVE. When did we stop being brothers and sisters in Christ? When did we stop being a part of the same family? the same Kingdom of God?
If we want to make our divisions official, then each of us could individually be divided into our own denominations because I doubt any of us totally agree about everything. (Okay, so that was a slippery slope argument, but still…)
Why should we stay together? Because Love compels us to. The world needs to see more love. The world needs to see that people with vastly different viewpoints can still come together and work for a common, greater good, and worship the same One Holy Triune God. Christians have been splitting and dividing themselves for long enough. God’s grace is big enough for all of us. Love is strong enough to overcome these differences.
Perhaps we are forgetting to be patient and kind. Maybe we are too envious or boastful, or arrogant, or rude. I know, we are selfish and insist on our own ways. Certainly we don’t delight in evil, or miss chances to rejoice in the truth?
Hope. Protect. Persevere. Love never fails.
I know, I know, this is all emotional and not practical, or rational. I'm living in a fantastical dream world of rainbows and unicorns. So just forget I said anything useful, right? Or, would you do one thing for me, no, make that two things:
Love the Lord your God, and Love your neighbor as yourself (whomever that person may be).
Shouldn’t we especially be able to love those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ? Won’t the world come to know Jesus’ love by how we love each other?
I can’t separate from the UMC either as a conservative or a liberal because either way I’d be leaving some people I love. As a child, my parents divorced, and I knew it wasn’t 100% right because of what I and my siblings went through. Since then, I’ve always believed that divorce is a last resort. That if there’s any other way possible, do that. I know that’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the point. Breaking the bonds of love is not easy.
If the UMC does split, then I may end up opposite people I love, whom I consider brothers and sisters. People I can't really imagine not having fellowship with. I really don’t think that’s the best case scenario for us. People who love each other can (and do) stick together through disagreements and tough times. Eventually, we can make it through. I’ll close with a couple of quotes:
“Let me show you the most excellent way...Faith, hope, and Love remain. The greatest of these is Love.” - 1 Corinthians 12:31 & 13:13
“If your heart is as my heart, take my hand.” - John Wesley
Why are there those that want to stay together? Because Love. Even though we disagree at a deep level, we still love each other and have a deep bond that is difficult to break.
I am a Software Developer, a career shift made in 2018. So far, I have experience with C# .Net and Angular. I continue to let curiosity lead me into learning new technologies. I plan to share what I learn along the way about technology and personal/career life. Previously, my vocation was United Methodist pastor. So in addition to coding, I'll share about theology, the Church and The Bible. I also enjoy running, music, and I'm a deeply committed father and husband. Maybe my experiences will help you. I know it helps me to share.