Why did a twenty-something seeker with little church history choose to become a United Methodist, and why do I affirm that choice over and over again? I’ll tell you. Read #1: Questions, #2: Touch, and #3: Photos.
Much of Christianity doesn’t make sense when seen from the outside. Why does a movement that proclaims love emanate so much anger? Why does a community of sinners feel so free to judge others? Even more troubling to me; why are Christians so divided? Why do you keep splitting up, going your separate ways? If you, the Christians, want me to join you in changing the world, you need to prove that you’re different than the world first.
A lot of Christian teachings are difficult for new believers to grasp. Healing, visions, signs, wonders, incarnation, resurrection. All these challenge our worldviews and push us to the edge of faith and reason. But for every difficult principle there is an obvious one, an easy one. Something basic and true.
Like “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Or “judge not, or you will be judged.”
Or “let the one who hasn’t sinned cast the first stone.”
The Christian faith is a glorious mix of intuitive and impossible, and we test this mix when Christians join together. When we live as a community while our human flaws try to rip us apart. In the face of disagreements and conflict it is easy to split up and go your own way. It’s much less painful to be independent than to live in connection with others. It’s much simpler to keep for yourself than to share. The world tells us to split up, to look out for ourselves. Jesus tells us that we’re all connected. That we’re in this together.
Every United Methodist is connected to every other United Methodist in the world. I am part of the same church as United Methodists in Congo and United Methodists in Congress. We share theology, we share leaders, we share money. We have different gifts and different needs. We love this connection when it allows us to support missions around the globe. We bemoan this connection when it stops us from having our way in theological disputes. It’s not easy but it’s right, and our struggles to stay together honor the Christ who calls everyone to gather around a single, common table.
Looking at Christianity from the outside, it seemed obvious that the church should be connected. That Christians should focus on uniting around what they had in common rather than splitting over their differences. That they should try to live together even when family squabbles made divorce an attractive option. If the church isn’t just an organization but the body of Christ in the world, that body should be as broad, as unified, and as alive as possible. I didn’t want to join a church, I wanted to join the body of Christ, and this is where I found it.
Photo courtesy of United Methodist Women
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