February’s Pastor’s Pondering

Maintaining, or even establishing unity amid a wide diversity of opinions can seem like an almost impossible task.  Whether the arena is the daily fights we witness and/or engage in in the world of politics – from local to global levels – or the subtler struggles within the church over a wide range of theological and moral perspectives, the challenge to unity is grand.  In moments of discouragement, one is tempted to simply give up – throw one’s hands into the air and yield to defeat.  The many issues before us in the larger world and in the greater church, divide nations, friends, families, even faith-communities.

Yet Jesus’ prayer for all of us is for unity.  With reference to the body of Christ, Jesus’ desire for his disciples is to remain united through the bond of God’s love.  Praying for all believers as part of his farewell discourse, Jesus said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” (John 17: 22-23)

The church has experienced conflict since it’s beginning.  Well-meaning people tried and still try to understand and profess just what it “looks like” to follow God and abide by God’s Word, Jesus’ actions, and the ways of the faith.  Yet the written Word, the eye-witnessed activities of our Lord, and the faith traditions have been tested by the believer’s life experiences and their era’s unique understanding of reason.  To this day, we who claim the “United Methodist” moniker, turn to the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” – a set of checks and balances based on Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience to make important decisions on ethics, morality, and lifestyle issues.  And many times, people of faith come to very different conclusions.

The challenge is to maintain Christian unity based on Christian love in the wake of these significant disagreements.  Our very own John Wesley is credited with coining the phrase, “agree to disagree.”  Can we do this for the good of the greater church?  Our ability to love one another may hold the answer to this challenge.

Stay tuned.  Become informed.  But most of all, remember Christ’s prayer to “be one . . . so that [we] may be brought to complete unity.”

Blessings to All!

Pastor Will

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