Why So Anxious?
It seems all of United Methodism is talking about one thing these days – General Conference. It seems every four years, we whip ourselves up into a frenzy about the topics we will cover at General Conference. Let me not downplay the importance of General Conference. It is important. Every four the global United Methodist Church gathers to do important work. Some of it is tedious but needed. For instance, we will set the budget for the church at General Conference. There will resolutions to acknowledge some people or events, but there will also be larger discussions about big issues, like human sexuality and the church’s response to immigration.
I suppose it is natural for our anxiety to increase at such times, but before we shut the church doors in protest, perhaps we have something else to consider. The United Methodist Church does not belong to any one side of an issue. The church does not belong to you nor to me. Much like the altar-table, it belongs only to God. We are called to be stewards of the church, not her patron. Said more plainly, these decisions are not exactly ours to make. We must seek the will of God, not our own agendas.
As stewards, we are called to seek the will of our patron, or our God. If, as a church member you have prayed carefully about who represents your congregation at annual conference, you have done your job well. As a delegate to annual conference, if you have prayed carefully about who represent your annual conference at the jurisdictional and general conferences, you have done your job well. If, as a delegate to jurisdictional and general conferences, you have prayed for God’s wisdom and help as you do your work, you have already done your job well.
If we have all done our jobs well, the question for us now is this: do we trust the Holy Spirit? Each week, in the Lakehills UMC congregation we confess faith in the Holy Spirit. Right now, we are using A Modern Affirmation (UMH 885), which states:
We believe in the Holy Spirit as the divine presence in our lives, whereby we are kept in perpetual remembrance of the truth of Christ, and strength and help in time of need.
Is this true for our lives? To seek the will of God is to expect an answer. I believe God has provided for us the answers we seek. Are we ready to accept those answers? Are we ready to believe God and the direction God has planned for the United Methodist Church? Only time will tell. For now, we should remember it does no good for us to anxiously snipe at one another and tear each other down. Let us remember there is only one purpose for the church, to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ. If we are unwilling to do it, God will raise up those who will.