Over the past 20 years, I have been on several church staffs in various leadership roles. I have had the privilege of serving 3 United Methodist Churches, and 1 Wesleyan Church. Each one different, each one unique, each one incredible, and each one with its own challenges and even a bit of pain from time to time. It has been a vocation that never stops teaching me new things about God, and also human nature. It has been, and is, an honor and a passion, to serve the body of Christ, to love, to care for, and to be a part of.
Some months ago, when Pastor Dale returned from his renewal leave, during a sermon he mentioned a question that was placed on his heart during his time away. That question was, “For Who Does Your Heart Break?” I thought about that question. What would my answer be?
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Does my heart break for the homeless; for the poor; for single parents; for those affected by suicide; for the families left from those who have died from drug overdoses? Yes, my heart breaks for all those people who are hurting and many, many more. I personally know people, some my own family members, who have been affected by these situations.
But, as I continued to think of what breaks my heart, in this current season of ministry, I realized my heart breaks for the body of Christ. The body of Christ is such a beautiful God-honoring family. Which is why my heart breaks when I see or sense something that has the potential to hurt or divide us from each other.
In the coming months:
Politics will impact the body of Christ, through:
A mid-term election cycle in November. Republicans, Democrats, the Left, the Right, Liberals, Progressives, Conservatives. The rhetoric has already begun.
The United Methodist Church will impact the body of Christ through:
2. A Special General Election vote in February 2019 to determine if the United Methodist Church will
allow homosexual ordination, and homosexual marriage.
Regardless of what you believe or how you feel about these and other socially charged issues, adversity and challenges that have the potential to hurt and divide in the coming months will be lobbed at the body of Christ:
Relationships in the body of Christ will be tested and tried. They already have been.
Relationships in the body of Christ will be broken and mended. They already have been.
Relationships in the body of Christ will end. Some already have ended.
This should be heart-breaking to all of us.
The quote below was published in social media following the 2016 election. It has resurfaced from time to time and most recently, I saw it again this past Friday as I was praying and preparing to write this blog. It reads:
“I will never think any less of any person who has different views then me, because some of the most beautiful, inspirational people I know will disagree with what I believe all day long, but at the end of the day they are still that beautiful inspirational person I have always known them as. Don’t think less of people because some of their beliefs don’t align with yours, and don’t lose quality people in your life because you choose hate over love.”
In the body of Christ at Mason UMC we have many beautiful, inspirational, quality people with different beliefs that may not align with our own. With regard to politics, we have republicans, democrats, liberals, progressives, conservatives, etc. And in the body of Christ at Mason UMC with regard to homosexuality, we have people who believe the Word of God as written; and people who believe Scripture was written for a different culture in a different time.
Who is right? Who is wrong? What I would suggest as we go through the upcoming months, is be respectful with each other in all communication remembering we have differing beliefs. Words spoken with love have the power to keep, heal and bring people together. Words spoken with anger have the power to hurt and divide. Ephesians 4:15 says:
“… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Several weeks ago, Johnathan Cooper, Superintendent from Mason City Schools, spoke during our August 12, 2018, worship service at MUMC. Something so simple, and yet so profound was a concept they are implementing in the school district that I’d not heard before.
He shared about “Above the Line and Below the Line.” Are the words/comments you say:
Above the Line – building up the community?
Below the Line – tearing down the community?
Body of Christ at MUMC, will your words be the witness that builds people up in the love of Christ?
Or will your words be the witness that would turn people away from the love of Christ?
Hold yourselves accountable speaking words and truth in love and God honoring ways.
And hold each other accountable, so we will grow to become the mature body of Christ, together!
The world is watching – and it is a world of many people who do not yet know the love of Jesus Christ.
The body of Christ is watching – and it is a body that is vulnerable in the cultural, political and even religious climate of today.
By all means speak;
but always speak in love.