A new day of choices
"It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose. ..."
– Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name
What does it mean to choose as United Methodists in 2016? Why do we have to choose? We choose to love as Jesus Christ taught us to love. As I donned my little blue choir robe as a child to sing, "Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so," I was developing a life defined by giving for the glory of God. So where are we now?
We are within an organization called The United Methodist Church facing a new day full of excitement for the word of Jesus in the lives of our neighbors – neighbors who possibly have forgotten their faith, or maybe never knew Jesus at all. A new day of choices.
We are not proclaiming the gospel strongly enough outside the body. We are not welcoming with truly open arms. We are not, as a total church, leading people to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the Spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We find ourselves struggling to nurture persons in Christian living through worship, sacraments, spiritual disciplines and other means of grace. We fall short in sending people into the world to live, love and justly lift the name of Jesus Christ before all equally.
In an organization facing choices, God's choice is for all of us to love as Jesus taught us. We have committed ourselves to be in ministry with all people, as we, in faithfulness to the gospel, seek to grow in mutual love and trust. The state of the church depends on God's choice for us. Already made. A God choice.
As we engage in prayers, conversations, Bible studies, power struggles, ill feelings, anger, distrust, without listening for God's voice, God's choice will not mean a thing. All is noise, without hearing God's choice first. Are we to continue with one eye shut as we walk the streets of our communities, our world? Is my closed eye destined to block out what you envision as God's choice? Do we choose Wesley's Christian conferencing with God as facilitator?
I'm free to choose. I choose The United Methodist Church with God leading us. First!
Warren Harper and his wife, Sandy, are members of Wellspring United Methodist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. He has been Virginia Conference lay leader since 2012 and filled the same role in the New Jersey Conference from 1996 to 2000. He will be a delegate to General Conference 2016.