Bearing witness

As a United Methodist in Alabama, I bear witness to a diverse array of thoughts, feelings, actions, and attitudes. Some people in my world are claiming the sky is falling. Plenty of frustrations and finger pointing by lots of people.

Methodism, at its core, is a belief and passion for Jesus Christ. Standing slightly behind Jesus and to the left is a man named John Wesley. (Jesus' left, not yours).

Anyway, Methodism makes a great foundation with which to respond to life. Much like the Gospel, Methodism (which has the Gospel at the core) has a way of looking different in different contexts. Often in Alabama we get Metho-baptists. Metho-catholics are fairly common in Riverchase. There are also Metho-presbyterians and I've even heard stories in distant lands of Metho-atheists. Although I'm not sure how that one works.

Anyway, there are lots of people bearing witness to the frailties of life.

I am speaking of our political climate.

There seems no middle ground anymore. Everything is extreme. The president is accused of being racist, communist, and a wide variety of other unsavory words. The flip side is that others think he is beyond fault. So far apart is the separation of feelings about Obama between people that the response to such accusations is not really all that sane either, just satirical. For example:

I found this here. You can understand the frustration, right? From both sides? Things are changing (for ill or good). Doomsayers are saying doom, others simply roll their eyes.

I am talking about our economic climate. For the first time in my lifetime, there is serious doubt in capitalism's ability to constantly push the world forward in progress. The cracks are showing.

I am talking about our church climate. Within the United Methodist Church, there is a lot of soul searching going on. Its weird because if you go out west you get a different kind of Methodism than you do here in Alabama. If you go to Africa you get a different kind of Methodism than you do in our Hispanic Methodist congregations. All of this diversity is really making methodists fearful, worried, or passionate about some things, sometimes to the detriment of their witness.

In a world that is constantly picking sides, I want to do the same.

I'm on your side. I'm bearing witness, here and now, that God loves this world(you and me) through Jesus Christ.

Well, let me be more honest. I'm on his side. Jesus' side. I'm a metho-american. I'm a metho-capitalist. If I lived in a communist country I'd try my best to be a metho-commie. ha! And since HE is on your side, I am too.

You understand what I'm saying, right? There is an appropriate and hopeful/loving/challenging response to all life throws at us. Is God still not the same God from 2006?

I want to look around at my Christian brothers and sisters and just say...

chill out. Hang in there.

Seriously. If you are liberal, back off. These people are not stupid or misguided. Fear does strange things to people. You might be getting your way, but at what cost? Can you be sensitive to your neighbor's rationale?

Really? If you are conservative, shhhh. These folks are not crazy. Power does strange things to people. You may be the underdog, but patience. There is much to learn and much to teach. Do so with a warm and gracious heart. Can you hear the passion in your neighbor's desires?

Anyone who has ever worried over the future could do well to listen to Jesus' words... from Luke 12:
22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I have to bear witness to the Kingdom of God. A place where political affiliations mean squat. Its a place where you are not defined by your job or lack thereof. A place where needs are met and folks are joyful. Power takes a different look in the KoG. REAL power is service. In the KoG, the greatest are those who can give the most. Its a place where its not what you have but what you give that really counts. Its not about who you know, but about who knows you (that would be Jesus).

Now, if this place sounds far off from where you are now, take heart. I know a guy who has been there and back. If you can see how he loves you and how he is working tirelessly for your betterment, I think you'll realize the future isn't nearly as bleak as some are saying.

But you'll also realize that you are being heard. That your frustrations, your cries, and your world is not going un-noticed.

I must bear witness that Jesus Christ is still Lord. We, as Christians, have an amazing opportunity here and now to share the love of Jesus Christ in new and fresh ways.

We can be set free from the past. We can help God make all things new.

Doesn't that sound exciting? The sky is falling. And we are gonna help bring it down.