"I was thinking..."
I was thinking…Pastor Steve
“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
Colossians 3: 11 (NIV)
I was thinking about all that has gone on since the General Conference 2019 of the United Methodist Church in February. As you already know, the Traditional Plan did pass but there were parts
of it that will have to undergo the scrutiny of the Judicial Council. Most of it will stand, but the parts that call for accountability may not. In reality, whether it does or not, there are huge fractures in the
denomination, and those whose plan didn't pass are making vows to continue to disregard the Book of Discipline and, in turn, the foundation of Biblical theology that has stood for two thousand years.
Dona and I first attended West Ohio's Annual Conference about 10 years ago. We were shocked at the views some of the clergy and laity had over human sexuality. Not that we didn't know people had different beliefs than our own. It was that it was almost split in half! I would never have thought that there was that much of a divide in rural Ohio. I guess I was pretty naive. Sad to say it hasn't improved much since then, as you could tell from reading any of the reports during and after last month's Conference.
Even UMC churches in the Cincinnati area are divided. One putting an ad in the Enquirer basically apologizing for the results of the vote and making the declaration that they will continue to
resist changing their liberal stance. The above verse is one that many churches claim as evidence to their theology. The problem is, they must not have read this in context. I apologize for taking up space here but I must include what Paul wrote in verses 5 through 10:
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
When we make that commitment to Jesus, we are to change from our former life. It may be easier for some than others, but there was a cost for our salvation (the life of Jesus on the Cross) and
there is a cost for us to Him. We lay down our lives to pick up His Cross so that we, too, bury our old selves with Him and are Resurrected in a new life in Christ. We used to walk in the way of the world, but now we must rid ourselves of those things with the help of the Holy Spirit. Then, as brothers and sisters living as children of a Holy God, we will all be equal.
God has reached across the great divide between Him and us, with the love of Jesus, who died for us all. And, all means all. We accept everyone into His Church, but there are still attributes God has set aside for those leading His people. The Book of Discipline still affirms those attributes. The other side will not accept God's Word on this not the Book of Discipline. So, for now, there will continue to be the tension we live in. For us, we need to stay strong in our Faith and love those as Jesus would but stay firm in the foundation of His Word. The Cross was a day of mourning, but the joy came on the Third Day. Jesus' death on the Cross and His burial show us that our old selves can be buried with Him and that our new life is reborn in His Resurrection. We are a New Creation in Jesus! We can celebrate this Easter this new life, saved for all time from the ways of the world. God bless and have a great Easter.