Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. -Luke 17:33 (NRSV)
I was raised by a wonderful woman of faith: my mother. Over the past 24 hours I have been thinking about the UMC and the hot topic of guaranteed appointments after the Judicial Council ruled against their elimination. I keep thinking about what my mother would say which would be something to this effect: The devil is great at distracting us from Kingdom work.
Now, mom and I have some differing opinions on the existence of the devil, etc. but man do I wish I could agree with her that this is something the “devil” did. It would be easier for me to deal with if I could blame it on the devil. Unfortunately, the fact is we have no one to blame but ourselves for this distraction. We are getting pretty good at it might I say. If it isn’t guaranteed appointments and ineffective clergy then it is something else, right? We keep bouncing from symptom to symptom to try and figure out what is wrong so we can save the UMC.
Are we so arrogant as to think that God needs us? Why are we so focused on keeping the life of the UMC going? I mean it seems to me the more that we are focusing on ourselves and our existence as a denomination the more and more we end up being ineffective for the Kingdom of God.
I probably sound pretty negative so far (whoops), but the truth is I love the UMC and it is the place where I found my spiritual home. However, I remember when I became United Methodist and it wasn’t because of an “effective clergy person” and it wasn’t even because of an abundance of “small groups” or “vibrant worship” offered at my local congregation. No the reason I became United Methodist is because my local church pointed beyond itself to God. (at least in my naive 8th grade eyes of experience) My experience was of a church which pointed beyond itself to something bigger. But now I have to wonder, how often are we pointing to something bigger than the UMC (i.e. The Kingdom of God) and how often are pointing at ourselves?
The devil has gone and done it, like a great “shell game” con we have been duped into focusing on the wrong stuff. Well that is if the devil did do it, unfortunately I think the blame lies square on the person looking back at us in the mirror. (yeah even me)
Image taken from: http://allegriaimagesbylynn.blogspot.com/2011/01/shell-game.html