The United Methodist Church, according to some, is a denomination with a clouded future. The recently concluded 2019 General Conference did very little to ease the tension and anxiety within our family. Folks on all sides of the theological spectrum are wondering what the future holds for the people called “United Methodist.” One thing is certain, we are clearly not united around issues of ministry as it relates to our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers.
I have heard frustrated laity and clergy, from across the denomination say, “this is not the church I signed up for.” Angst and frustration abound. Well-meaning Christians continue to, like conjoined twins in a fist fight, hurt our own body. Where are we headed?
God is NOT the author of confusion. At least that is what I have been told. Yet, I am aware that God will allow us to wander around in our own wilderness circles when we fail to follow the path that God lays out for us. God is never content with us calling the shots and asking God to bless our directives. God wants us to trust and obey the plans of God, walking in step with Jesus, the Lord of the Church, assisted by the directives and power of the Holy Spirit.
Our self-absorption and self-indulgence in the church is at an all-time high. We have lost Paul’s admonition and advice given to the Philippian Christians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant …” (Philippians 2:5-7a). Self-servant leadership is not a reliable biblical model.
My simple prayer continues to be; “Lord, send the gentle wind of your Holy Spirit to blow upon the embers of our hearts and fan us into flames for Jesus once again.”
The Holy Spirit was provided to teach us how to be like Jesus and to accomplish the work that Jesus commissioned. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide us. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us.
I believe, like our founders, Charles, John, and Susanna Wesley, that it is time to ask God for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. Both John and Charles had a period of time when they knew that something spiritually was missing in their lives and ministries. Each of these men received a “second blessing” from God that enabled them to become victorious champions for the cause of Christ. We too can experience personal and corporate transformation if we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that we cannot get out of our current mess without the Holy Spirit. We need the fresh touch from heaven that comes when the Holy Spirit finds open and welcoming hearts.
The wind of the Holy Spirit blows where God directs and where Jesus is welcomed and affirmed. If we want the fighting to end and peace to come within The United Methodist Church, each one of us will need to offer ourselves to Christ once again in full and total surrender. Each of us will need to seek spiritual renewal and empowerment that comes when the Holy Spirit is welcomed, and Jesus is allowed to be Lord.
Where are we headed? It all depends upon our willingness to give up control so that the Holy Spirit can bring the wind of renewal and restoration.
II Chronicles 7:14 reminds us of the place to start, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”