A Way Forward
As I write this newsletter front page, we are still in the debate about the future of the United Methodist Church. Just a few days from now, we should have more clarity about our next steps, if any for the future of Bailey and Pleasant Grove UMCs. This is a stressful time within the life of our denomination. But I want us to be focused on what it truly means to be a United Methodist in this difficult times.
Many of you have been a part of our congregation for many years. Some of you are new to the church and perhaps new to Methodism in general. Some of the questions that we all have, surround what makes us different from the Baptists or Pentecostal churches in our community. Although all of us worship God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and can all profess with confidence the truths presented in the Apostles' and Nicene creeds, Methodists do have some distinctive understandings of how we live out our call as witnesses for Jesus Christ.
One of the most distinctive doctrines that we talk about as Methodists is the doctrine of Christian perfection in the work of grace. This is important because of John Wesley's emphasis on a follower of Jesus to never be satisfied with where he or she was in one's relationship with Christ. There is no point where we can sit back and enjoy retirement from the Christian life. It is an ongoing process that lasts a lifetime. We talk about moving toward perfection in love as a way of showing the world who Jesus is. This means that we are fully presenting the love of God to all people no matter who they are or what they have done. We show mercy and grace to all those who are in need of God's love. We do this by deepening our personal relationship with Jesus and then allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of the gospel. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that changes us and transforms us into the likeness of Christ. This is called sanctification. Christian perfection is the process of continuing to grow in that love and truth of the gospel until we love as Jesus loves.
I outline all of this to help us to focus on what really matters in all of the anxiety-filled Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter about what is happening or will happen with the United Methodist Church. In the end, it is not about the name that is on our sign. What matters is how we love the world around us. How do we live lives that are transformed into the life of Christ? How are we being perfected in love in this life? That is what is going to ultimately define us. By the time you actually get this newsletter, the votes will be cast, and we should have some clarity on a way forward. But no matter what happens, we are still going to do the work that God calls us to do. We are still going to be a change agent in our community so that others can see Jesus in us.