There was a time in my early 20’s that I considered leaving the British Methodist Church. It was a time, that as a young adult I felt that my plea and the plea from others my age in our circuit who wanted to deepen our faith. We could do that, but a certain person wanted to put restrictions in place as to who could lead us. That restriction eventually meant the group fell apart, we didn’t have what we needed to sustain us.
I decided to speak to someone who I knew was wise and very faithful, and they gave me a good piece of advice – “for change to happen, you need to be a part of that change”. In other words, leaving the church wouldn’t solve anything. Walking away from the thing I loved, was to walk away from part of my identity, my faith. It was about 10-15 years later that I realised just how true that was.
I battled with my desire to fulfil God’s calling in my life, calling me to a life of ministry of sharing the Love Christ has for all people. First though, I had to love myself and that included the part of God’s creation within me, my own sexuality, my homosexuality.
If I couldn’t love the whole of me, how could I show other just how much God loved them.
Yesterday was a traumatic day for many, the UMC fractured further as they voted to maintain its opposition to same-sex marriage, and gay clergy.
While in the UK, the Lambeth Conference website showed this….
The image went wild on social media, an outcry of dispair, disbelief and sadness that certain people would be excluded because of who they loved. It was eventually changed later in the day.
It often seems easy to reject what we don’t understand or have been taught is wrong, or sinful. We may not always appreciate the hurt and despair sharing those opinions causes. The first commandment is to love God, the second to love our neighbour. If we love we don’t intentionally hurt others, though if we think what we are doing is right – well, that’s ok, isn’t it?
There are a lot of people hurting today, many who are angry on behalf of others, and then there are those who are thinking – how can churches hold all of our different views and stay together?
I know what it feels like to experience that kind of rejection, been there and done that! I feel for all our brothers and sisters no matter where in the world they live. If you know someone is hurting – encircle them with your love, and show them just how much you value them for who they are. If you are that person, I pray that you can lean on Jesus and find the strength through him to stay wherever you are, to ride out the storm around you, so you can be a part of the change to come. If you are someone who holds a different view, all I ask is that you are willing to continue the conversation, to accept that nothing is straight forward except for maybe one thing – That God loves each and everyone of us, we are all made in God’s image. There are some things that God created within each one of us that are not meant to be changed or driven out of us.
Just remember, God first loved us, through that we have the capacity to love each other, treat each other with equality and kindness. Though for many, just now, there needs to be space for healing and if you are contemplating leaving your church, denomination or faith, I pray, don’t make a quick decision. Take some time out and reflect, if you leave imagine what wonderful gift of Love they will loose – you! You are a beautiful gift of God, you are loved and you are love. There is a need to free the Holy Spirit within each one of us, my prayer is the freeing of that spirit of love in all of us, no matter where we stand on the theological scale. It is the recognition of love that sets us free to truly live as the people we were created to be.
A few articles that you may also find an interesting to read on the situation in the UMC