Repent, Pray, and Stand for the UMC

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A Retreating Bulwark Allows Bullies to Reign

by | May 12, 2018 | UMC Renewal, Wesley Covenant Association | 0 comments

As a sixth grader, I was once bullied by a fourth grader. And not just any fourth grader, but a fourth-grade girl. I can tell you her name and how I felt full of tears and relieved to get on a bus away from her, and of course to graduate sooner to a school far from her. I don’t remember what she said, but it doesn’t matter, because the fact of the situation was that she was the one in control. I had developed early, so I was a head taller and 50 pounds heavier than any of the other kids around me. But I was a pushover, and certain personalities could sense it and enjoy the thrill of taking advantage of it. I don’t think I’ve admitted that episode to anyone before. Instead, I buried the memory.

Don’t let the loss of the UMC be a memory you have to bury.

Victory in conflict is more dependent on spirit than on material capabilities. Capabilities matter, but not as much as tenacity, grit, courage, hope, zeal, and other qualities of the spirit and will.

Video of dog intimidating lions (original source link was removed after posting; unfortunately this alternative link has ads)

The other day I saw this video of a lion and lioness being pushed around by a dog. They could bite the head off of the dog anytime they want, but instead, they’re bossed around by something with more purpose and passion to disturb them than their milquetoast desire to sit on that particular patch of grass.

To date in the UMC, the devotion of the noisy few to the cause of converting the church’s teaching has been far greater than the devotion of the church to the cause of sharing and living the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There’s far more devotion to a far more menial cause; far less devotion to a far more critical cause… frustrating and disappointing, to say the least, but it is a common reality where Christians walk after the flesh rather than by the Spirit.[1]

Imagine for a moment that I wasn’t as much of a pushover sixth grader, but that I somehow protected all the other smaller kids from a fourth grader who wanted to insult and bully them. Day after day, the same fourth grader tries to ruin the day of innocent little kids. Day after day I put the bully in her place. But after a while, I get tired of the conflict. Onlookers and teachers get concerned that I’m always fighting, and some tell my parents I’m causing trouble. I’d much rather just go play with my friends than keep watch over all these other kids I don’t even know. So after a while, I go with a few people to play in some corner of the school where I can’t see what this fourth-grade bully does to others. Yes, I enjoyed using the main playground. But this cement parking lot over here has its perks too. You can draw a foursquare box and play with a few other friends. Who cares anyway about all the other kids getting to play soccer on the big field? I’m going to be headed off to middle school soon anyway away from all this. Lord Jesus, return soon.

The result of that decision is that for now, I’m fine. I don’t have to deal with the mess of things anymore, and I can leave without some little upstart fourth grader bringing me to tears once in a while. Instead of “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” I say, “As for me and my house, we’ll be fine.”

That’s the purpose and function of the WCA: to make sure the remains of the Methodist Church are fine. Don’t get me wrong, the WCA might possibly be useful, and it’s responsible for helping me to stand up and fight, but it’s definitely not the future of the UMC unless we’re all folding now and handing the whole church, assets, reputation, calling, and 300 years of brilliant history over to the enemy today. The WCA is one tool in a vast arsenal of heavenly weaponry the people of God have in our armory – if we choose to know how to use them. For now, though, it is the best watering hole for gathering UMC prayer warriors together, so we should proudly join and participate in the WCA.

If we capitulate like the sixth grader, we and our immediate friends will be fine, but the countless vulnerable God called us together to minister the Gospel to, to disciple, raise up, and protect… they will be like sheep for the slaughterhouse to the enemy of our souls. And not only will multitudes of lives be lost, but our own as well. For what will God say to capitulators instead of, “Well done, My good and faithful servant?” Do we want to find out?

And what of the bully? Does not God love her too? With no one to stand up to her, she will likely remain a slave to bullying. God uses conflict for growth on both sides, but retreat fuels death on both sides. God wants leaders to stand up against the bullying of the homosexual lobby to save innocents, but also to reach the progressives. Were you not placed here to testify to the reality of the Gospel in this generation?

Recently I was told by a Methodist that when her family left a local Episcopalian church because it adopted a pro-homosexuality theology, that soon after that split three church board members who had advocated the change suddenly died. The stakes here are very real and personal. The enemy is never a person espousing progressive theology, but the spirit behind the movement that uses them as weapons to divide the church and throws them under the bus when their usefulness has expired.

We must fight for souls: for ours, for the progressives’, and for the vast, unaware innocents who God has marked for the church to serve in love. To move on from this fight without fighting, living the rest of our days in our healthy families, and doing a little ministry here and there, but ignoring the cries of a dying world we retreated from, playing church, maybe seeing a few little miracles sprinkled around… that is spiritual death and not pursuing that for which Christ pursued us.

Abandoning now may appear to save our friends and families, but doing so loses them all, plus the vast numbers who could have been discipled, and plus those being used by our mutual spiritual enemy to divide the body and its witness. Most options abandoning ground to the progressive movement simply move the battle to a later time; the progressive movement will never be content without total annihilation of the historic Christian faith, and they shouldn’t be if they are genuine to their worldview. The battle for the salvation of all only becomes more difficult from a weaker position if traditionalists give up this ground now.

Protecting my immediate interests before investing in the renewal of the church might seem prudent, but prudence is not a listed fruit of the Holy Spirit. My own life and my closest friends might turn out to be fine, but that never was the point of being the church anyway.

[1] Progressivism by nature will always be more interested and motivated than traditionalists to occupy the high political places of any institution. That worldview requires total control of the political because salvation cannot come by any other way. But the church of Jesus Christ should have a well of passion far deeper to draw from, leading some to occupy the political, some the family, and many other places of influence, both local and national. The devil cares only about the high places. The church ought to care for all the places where people made in God’s image are to be found.