Summer Heat Again
It is hot today as I write this article. It is so hot that I am running both the air conditioning and a fan. It is just too hot and we have not even seen the real heat of summer yet. It is coming though and you may begin to see its familiar signs. People are a little more likely to blow their horns. Lines at the store are less cordial. Summer heat has a funny way of bringing out our divisions and our willingness to argue about them. When we are tired and hot we are irritable.
The climate of our culture seems to have been experiencing summer heat for several years. People seem more willing to disagree, argue, and insult then we are to understand and forgive. The Church is no different. This, too, is nothing new. From the very beginning, the Apostles had disagreements and debates. However, what we find particularly in the Book of Acts was a willingness to seek understanding and find common ground on which to continue to serve together.
John Wesley, who is largely responsible for the Methodist movement, lived his whole life experiencing these disagreements. He faced physical threats of death for his views and was banned from many pulpits in the beginning of his “Methodist” ministry. In fact, the word “Methodist” was meant as an insult against those Christians who sought to live holy lives, because they were said to believe they had a method of salvation. Today, John Wesley is celebrated not only in Methodism but also in the Church of England as a reformer. While Wesley certainly disagreed with many, he always believed in what he called the “catholic spirit.”
Wesley was well aware that loving, caring people were capable of disagreement, but he believed that we could agree on the fundamentals of our Christian faith. Wesley used the word catholic in its original sense. He meant it as a universal unity. For Wesley, it was love that allowed people with disagreements to not just tolerate each other but to grow in understanding and love of each other and to work together for the kingdom of God. When it gets really hot and my irritability is up, I try to remember how love demands I care for the heat and irritability of my neighbor. In this way, I remain part of Christ’s Church, which is not yet perfect, but is perfectly capable of living out the Kingdom of God in diverse ways by the grace of God.
I hope this month you will join me in being aware of our heat and being aware of Christ command to love. This month we will have the opportunity to read the Book of Acts together. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to read, study, and pray.
May the God of love open our minds, cool our Spirits, and lead us down new paths of understanding and love.
Pastor Jimmy Hendricks, firstname.lastname@example.org