Fishers UMC Blog

WWJD and other catchy phrases

Have you heard we’re electing a new president this year?  Of course, you’ve heard . . . there’s no escaping it!  Every election season I find myself more and more frustrated with the process.  I am frustrated with a process that pushes us to reduce complex issues into sound bites and catchy phrases.  And rhetoric that focuses more on personal attacks than addressing any of the very real issues we face.  And when did it become acceptable to manipulate the human fear response to get elected into an office of leadership?  When did Facebook memes become part of the democratic system?

In 1774 John Wesley had this to say about elections: “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Can you imagine what an election season would look like if we adopted these three guidelines?  The church (and the people in it) should be setting the standard for healthy dialog, not following behind the world around us.  We should be leading the way in justice issues and seeking ways to end human suffering around the world.   What if we demanded respectful, meaningful dialog rather than catchy one-liners?

Now if you just really happen to like catchy phrases, try this one:  WWJD (what would Jesus do) when entering into political dialog.  Jesus challenged the leaders of his time without name calling or character insults.  He demonstrated mercy, grace, and healing for people who were “on the fringe.”  He reminds us that we are all sinners and therefore have no right to judge another person; rather we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, welcome the stranger and love our neighbor as ourselves. 

WWJD in this election year?  Or perhaps the more important question is what does Jesus want us to do?  Can we model our Christian faith in the language we use to discuss important issues?  What do you think?

Jill Buckler
Director Of Congregational Relations
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Encouragement -- Perserverance -- Falling Down

 

Joyce and I had a chance to spend a couple of days with a dear friend we have known for more than 45 years – since we were kids in school.  I hadn’t seen her more than a dozen times since she got married over 30 years ago.  It was good to catch up on so much.  I had heard through family that she had been having a tough time in her personal life – because of failed promises, broken vows, and poor choices she and her husband finally divorced.  We talked at some length about her marriage and all that has happened over the years that has brought her to where she is now.  We talked about pain, fear, blame, guilt, disappointment, anxiety for the future, the need to forgive and be forgiven; about issues:  marital, personal, emotional, and her struggle to reclaim the relationship she has had with God for a lifetime and longs to have again.

Through all our conversations one of the primary recurring themes surrounded her sense of failing God and spiritual brokenness, despairing that she is not worthy of God’s love and forgiveness.  She has practiced her faith consistently throughout the years and has never lapsed but she admits that she has let slip her focus on the immediacy of her relationship with God.  Her sense of failure in the midst of her situation was so great she could not imagine God accepting her into his loving forgiving arms again.  She has been in counseling and worked hard on her issues.  She is gaining the courage to do what it takes to address her issues for herself, her marriage, her family, and her faith.

Life is filled with many complex issues – for ALL of us – to be sure.  I find it interesting yet troubling that so often we who live our lives in relationship with God having once received His gift of Grace even though we don’t deserve it, feel that once we find ourselves broken by disobedience or wandering or loss in our lives as disciples, we somehow think we are unlovable by the God who chose to love us in the first place.  Somehow we believe that the God who “first loved us when we were yet sinners” in His unconditional love [Apostle Paul in Romans 5: 6-8], will not now love us once again as we seek Him – even in our brokenness.  We tend to think that because we have failed, God will not accept us.  We know all the right words to say – the “Sunday School answers” – and we are quick to share them with others who feel the same way.  But when it comes to ourselves we just aren’t sure…

There is a village nestled into the foot of a mountain in Eastern Europe.  High up on the sheer face of the mountain – about half way up, an ancient monastery has been carved from the rock.  In that monastery live an order of Monks known for their lives of deep faith, great piety, and holiness.  They live totally unto themselves except when one of the brothers comes down into the village to sell their hand crafted wares to buy supplies.  On one such trek down the mountain into the village a peasant woman met one of the monks on the road.  She knew of their reputation for holiness and piety and she was acutely aware that her life, with its many imperfections, was so very different from his.  She was torn between her curiosity of what life was like “up there” and her own sense of guilt heightened by the coming presence of the holy man.  When they met on the road he greeted her.  In her sense of inadequacy she stammered and could not meet his eyes with hers.  Finally, haltingly, she asked the holy man, “Forgive me for asking, Brother.  I know you live on the mountain with the other monks and that you are so holy and so filled with faith.  What do you do up there on the face of the mountain?”  The monk looked steadily into her eyes with kindness & deep understanding and said, “Like you, we fall down, and we get up.  We fall down, and we get up.  We fall down, and we get up.”  And then he continued on his way.

What did he mean?  What was his message to the woman on the path?  Is there a message here for us?  It occurs to me that he was sharing the truth with the woman & with us that everyone – even the holiest, most faithful & mature – fail [fall]…& fail [fall]…& fail [fall]…& the hope that no matter how many times we fail/fall we can get up again.  And that God is always right here with us encouraging, supporting, protecting, and giving us strength & courage to get up again.  He stands there within our reach with outstretched arms just waiting for us to reach out for Him.  In that very moment He embraces us, dresses our wounds from the fall, holds us close & walks beside us as we go on together.

If you are reading this and your “knees are scratched from falling,” Know this - God is kneeling right in front of you longing for you to look up from where you have fallen.  You can almost hear Him saying, “Come on!  You can do it!  Reach out to Me, just stretch out your hand, give me an inviting look & I’ll take you into my arms & we’ll get up & go on together.”

Anyone else out there suffering from scraped knees & wounded spirits from falling?  God is right there with you – within reach right now, longing for you to give him permission to pick you up & hold you in his arms of unfailing love.  Why not reach out right now.  He is already waiting, arms outstretched to pick you up & hold you close.

For The Only Cause That Matters,
Kevin McKinney
Sr. Pastor
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