Let me start by admitting that the world doesn’t need another opinion on what just happened at the United Methodist General Conference. With so many people hurting over this situation, it’s tough to know just what to say. I believe that most Methodists in America are hurting, no matter which plan they supported, and I have no interest in piling on further layers of accusations or anger. The headlines this week have reminded me of a dark time in my own faith, and that’s why I’m writing this.
As someone who grew up around an overwhelmingly traditional Christian culture, I always wondered; how could the actions and beliefs of some who claim to love Christ be SO different from what Christ actually taught? I struggled to wrap my head around it for many years, to the point of leaving the faith entirely. It was only after I learned to separate Christianity from Christ that I was able to regain my spiritual strength.
It took me several years after some bad church experiences to realize that it wasn’t fair for me to view ALL churches in a bad light. I’d been “stung by the church bee” and it was difficult to recover. Thankfully, I found a great congregation (First Christian Church in Richmond, IN) to help me move past that. After the events of this week, I fear that many others have been stung, and in a much more painful way.
Certain Christians seem to want to exclude so many, from the LGBT community, to immigrants, to anyone who doesn’t share their particular point of view, left or right. Isn’t it fair to wonder if that might have something to do with the declining numbers in churches all across America? I don’t claim to be a theological expert, but I firmly believe that Christ commands us to love. One of the core beliefs in the Disciples of Christ is the idea that everyone is welcome, in worship and at the communion table.
If we could all learn to love a bit more readily, and point the finger of anger and judgment a little less often, I think the world would be a better place. I hope we can learn to do a better job of making room at the table.