- Published: February 5, 2017 February 5, 2017
- Created: February 4, 2017 February 4, 2017
I wonder if you’ve ever considered this question, not for yourself, but for the church? Do we simply exist because it’s a good idea? Are we, as my father believed, here to temper the culture by being its ethical and moral compass?
The only body authorized to speak for the United Methodist Church as a whole is called the General Conference. Meeting every 4 years delegates from all over the world, each one elected by their Annual Conferences, gather to discern the way our churches operate, our governance. The doctrines are based on the Holy Scriptures, the sermons and “Notes on the New Testament” by John Wesley, and The Articles of Religion found in the first part of the United Methodist Book of Discipline. These never change, though interpretation plays a large part in how we perceive them.
We do have a Mission Statement, which lays out the purpose quite clearly:
¶ 120. (Paragraph 120) The Mission-The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. (Italics mine) Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.
Our mission, making followers of Jesus. The purpose, His followers, making the world a better place. Both these are God’s initiatives and require God’s power and grace to achieve. We, collectively or individually, cannot accomplish this mission! We cannot work hard enough, love long enough, or sacrifice enough resources to bring this to fruition.
God working in us and through us makes this goal both rational and reachable. Apart from Him, our accomplishments serve only to help us feel a little better about ourselves.
Disciple making is about learning and growing. Human beings naturally resist change and growing means just that. So, our first step isn’t to open a book or sign up for a class, it requires our surrender to God’s love, relinquishing our own, and releasing ourselves to His. Disciples follow the teacher wherever he or she goes, taking their lessons from the way.
It’s a journey. A journey we take together. Together, we learn to love each other, trusting God with our differences, knowing scars form in places where conflict delivers the lesson. We learn to be love where love is lacking, regarding ourselves the tool God will use to rebuild broken relationships.
First, God loved us. Then, we loved God. How do we know we really love God? “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
Giving up is hard. But to give up to God is to accept the greatest prize we might ever receive.