Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Six-Word Motto for the UMC

Jeremy Smith has a great post up that references a recent contest that the authors of Freakanomics held to give the United States a new motto. The winner was "Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay." It was a cute jab at some elements of the political Left. Noam Chomsky immediately sprung to mind when I read it. But Jeremy Smith takes that motto and applies it very cleverly to the United Methodist Church, and one that applies to both the Left and the Right in our denomination. He writes in agreement with a recent commentator who rejected with the notion that General Conference should sit out the homosexuality debate this time:

My friends, in the UMC, Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay. Unity in diversity is the best way forward to be forced to examine the issues. Breaking apart and schizm leads us to our own echo chambers where we will not have to deal with diversity again. And for the sake of our own discipleship, keep on these divisive issues, because by ignoring them, our outward appearance is happy, but our souls are rotten.

UPDATE: Jeff the Baptist nails it in the comments:

The problem is that with the UMC, the worst critics may be staying, but lots of other people aren't.


Jeff the Baptist said...

The problem is that with the UMC, the worst critics may be staying, but lots of other people aren't.

Ken Lowery said...

Well, sure, the worst critics prefer to stay in the church and in the country... in the world of adults, disagreement is not grounds for walking out. I wish that wasn't such a weird concept.

JD said...

Nice synopsis of the issues facing not only the UMC, but all Christians in a "morally relative" world. Christ is king, creator, shepherd, priest, redeemer, and, most often overlooked, judge. Ultimately, we will be accountable for our inability to affect cultural change while arguing the inner workings of our faith from a political position. We focus on the rules, try to throw in a little social consciousness, and call it faith. God is never changing, and while we attempt to adjust the Discipline to make us feel good about our faith, God may see it very differently.

At times, the UMC a great deal like the Israelites, wandering in the desert, not completely trusting God, and afraid to give up the sins of the past. Amos says it well, very similar to Jesus, but with less couth:

“‘I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Amos 5:21-24

All God wants is faith and with fatih comes justice. Faithful Christians are just Christians in all things: from fighting non-Christian behavior in the world to fighting non-Christian behavior in our church. Being just means not giving in to moral relativism, making rules for the sake of placating a group, or turning a blind eye to the destructive behavior of dictators. Being just means doing good, and sometimes in doing good, we let our brothers and sisters in Christ and the rest of the world know of their sin. Jesus was just. He did not mince words when it came to sin, but what He did do was present a message of hope and redemption. As we discuss these issues within our church, we need to confront sin, but also offer the hope for repentance and forgiveness in Christ.


Dale Tedder said...

Based on how many people are reportedly leaving the UMC, I'm not sure it's an apt motto.