I am a member of the United Methodist Church. As a member, I have been fortunate to hear both Bishop Scott Jones and Pastor Adam Hamilton speak on the concept of the ‘extreme center’ in relation to Methodist beliefs. (click here for Bishop Jones’ explanation) For me, this means finding a balance between the evangelical side of my faith and the social justice side of my faith. Even though there is a tension between these two aspects of my faith, I am thankful that my church not only preaches both concepts but pushes me to live it out.
With today’s political climate, this is proving to be even more of a challenge as I try to figure out where I stand on a variety of issues. As I wrestle with these issues, I’m trying to figure out how God would want me to react to an issue. Several years ago, God showed me that if I waited and listened, He would provide guidance on how to react.
With today’s social media and 24 hour news cycle, the waiting is proving to be very hard. However, I know from experience that if I wait, the solution will come. Psalm 27 verse 14 also encourages me to wait:
Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.
Pastor Rick Warren speaks of this need to wait for an answer in his blog post “What Do You Do While You Wait on the Lord?” In his blog, Pastor Warren refers to Habbakuk 2:2 which should be my resolution (if I could be patient enough):
“I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer.”
As I am waiting, I am hearing God speak in a variety of ways. God has blessed my Facebook feed with ‘friends’ from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. That blessing comes with a responsibility — to read posts even when my initial reaction is to disagree. I can’t say that any one post has swayed my opinion — but they all have caused me to think and to reflect about my faith.
To help keep my faith grounded in God and not Facebook, I read a daily devotional and often read a blog associated with that devotional. It is from these devotionals that I have found ideas or scriptures to help me focus this past month:
- Focus on trusting God, living for God’s kingdom and loving others.
- So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:17)
- Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Cor 16:13-14)
One of the issues that I’m wrestling with right now is the issue of immigration and refugees. I believe there are many facets to this issue, making it difficult to come up with a solution. In my struggle to understand the opinions of others, I have read several statements from religious leaders and/or institutions on the topic:
- Pope Francis: You Can’t Defend Christianity by being ‘against refugees and other religions’
- Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints statement on Immigration (released in 2011)
- Interfaith letter supporting refugee resettlement
Another way in which I seek to understand what God wants of me in relation to an issue is through attending worship services — both locally and on the Internet. The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection‘s current sermon series, Unafraid, has helped me to realize that fear is one of the major factors affecting my beliefs: fear of the unknown, fear of others, fear of failure. With this realization comes the command from Christ to not be afraid.
Knowing that fear is one factor affecting my beliefs, this mornings sermon by Pastor Willy Yumba at the Seneca United Methodist Church hit home with a quote from Dr. James Stewart (professor of the New Testament at the University of Edinburgh):
The greatest threat to Christianity is living our lives without sharing our faith.
Pastor Willy went on to say that faith in a living God must be lived out in our relationships with others. Thus, I have to look beyond how I might be personally impacted by an issue to see how that issue might affect someone else.
I pray that God will guide my thoughts and actions as I try to live my life ever mindful of what he asks of me —
“to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God” Micah 6:8