Stop Being Nice: Be Loving
It’s been a tough week for the FUMC family and the United Methodist Church. With the loss of our sister, Deb, and the special session of General Conference over issues of same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBTQ people, we’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotion. I’ve found myself emotionally drained by all that has happened in recent days. I was glad the Deb’s family chose to read 1 Corinthians 13 at the funeral service. Deb was a beloved member of our church family and she emulated Christ-like love. It was her love for us and our love for her that brought us together to honor her memory and Christian witness. In tough and trying times, it is the love of God and the love of our community that hold us together.
In our lives, we have agendas and schedules to follow. We face conflict, disagreement, and tension. We have our priorities and dreams. Yet, as 1 Corinthians teaches us, if we do not love, we accomplish nothing. Our achievements, honors or victories mean nothing if we fail to love. It doesn’t matter how much we think we know about God or how strong we think our faith may be, we cannot follow Christ without love in our hearts.
The decision making body of our denomination uses parliamentary procedure to make decisions. It allows for representatives from all across the globe to voice their opinions and pass legislation for the denomination. However, when sensitive issues, like human sexuality, are discussed, we can do harm when we treat people as “issues”. Our ways are not always loving. Our ways are not always of God.
In our lives, we can act according to our understandings and beliefs. We can follow the rules. But if our understandings, beliefs, or rules neglect to share God’s love or ignore the needs of others, we must reexamine ourselves. Jesus broke Jewish law to share love with others on the Sabbath day and Jesus chose the more difficult road to die for us and share His love with all the world. This is why we are called to “Stop Being Nice.” Nice is easy. Love comes at a cost. We are called to the more excellent way: to share the radical love of Christ in all we say and do. That’s not easy. Right now, “we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully.” So much remains a mystery to us. But one thing we do know: “the greatest of these is love.” Let us go and love boldly in all we do!