By Jessica Brodie
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”—2 Corinthians 11:3
There is holy power in simplicity. All around us there is noise—electronic devices, mundane routines, idle chitchat, blaring music, worldly worry—all clamoring for attention, all desiring to be our next “idol” and take our hearts, minds and hands away from our true priority: God.
People often say they feel most in touch with the Lord when they are alone with Him in nature, basking in the sunlight and the timeless beauty of His creation. I wager this has everything to do with eliminating the proverbial hustle-and-bustle so it doesn’t have a chance to compete with Him. For when it gets right down to it, there is just one important thing, and that’s our Creator. If we’re living in perfect accord with Him, then everything we do and think and say and feel ties directly to Him. Loving others is a way we can love Him. Serving is a way we can love Him. Anything in His name is a way we can love Him.
But it’s easy to become distracted, to let life and other pressing concerns—traffic, illness, anxiety—veer us off-course. And then suddenly these things, not God, fill our minds.
Right now I’m finding many United Methodists seem to be worrying far more about things like lesbian bishops than about how we can serve God together. As we go to press on this edition, our denomination’s top court is preparing to hear a number of questions related to the election, consecration and assignment of a bishop in a same-sex marriage. A 32-member commission of global laity and pastors just finished yet another meeting to flesh out a way forward for the UMC amid the divisiveness around human sexuality. Many Christians are divided over the issue. There’s talk of a denominational split. Two large churches in Mississippi have already left the UMC in anticipation of this.
I’m not saying these issues are not important. But I know without a doubt they don’t even come close to the importance of God and how we can love and serve Him in the world today. And we should not allow sexuality disagreements to trump unity in Christ.
Regardless of what happens with the question of human sexuality, we are a church united in Christ and in a mission to make disciples of His for the transformation of the world. That’s more important than anything else. Peter said much the same in Acts regarding circumcision.
At a recent meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators in New Orleans, Louisiana Resident Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey reminded us that Scripture indeed calls us to simplicity. But right now, the UMC is experiencing far too much complexity, and it is stealing thunder from our main mission. We’re bigger than human sexuality and bigger than earthy divisiveness, Harvey said, noting, “This is a distraction from what we are called to be and do. … Let’s hold nothing sacred but the mission.”
Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, echoed some of those sentiments, stating his great hope “is to leave a church able to move forward and not be dominated or mired in a 44-year old controversy that in my opinion is draining resources.”
Let’s keep our focus more on God and being united in Christ than on what I’m coming to believe is yet another of the devil’s distractions.