Rick Stiles is a member of Evangelical United Methodist Church in Billings, Montana, which is within the Yellowstone Annual Conference (to which Karen Oliveto has been assigned to act as “bishop” by the Western Jurisdiction. Rick is a life-long Methodist and retired church Lay Leader. He has led numerous home Bible studies and participated in various ministries within and outside of the church community.
He blogs at www.ideasonfaith.com from which this is re-posted with permission.
Something has continued to nag at me, really nag at me. In a recent group meeting about the acceptance of homosexual practices one of the jurisdictional cabinet members asked a question, “If we don’t change, what are you (meaning those opposed to acceptance) going to tell people that are attending reconciling churches. How are they supposed to feel if you prevent the church from moving forward?”
The more I think about it, the more I realize that we (meaning those opposed to acceptance) needed to tell all people, not just those attending reconciling churches, that we love them, unconditionally. We love them unconditionally because God calls us to show our faith through works and actions that demonstrate our love for Him.
John Wesley’s created the General Rules of the Methodist Church, the first being Do No Harm. At first glance, this rule seems pretty straight forward: just don’t do or say anything that would hurt or injure someone else. Wesley goes on to list a number of examples which, when taken in context, sound somewhat quaint for today’s time.
If we examine those 16 items more closely, what is the common theme? Doing any those items would separate us from Jesus’ desire for us to live a more faithful life. In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Wesley believed that if you lived a life that was faithful to God’s will you would Do No Harm, and we would Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves.
I believe that God loves me unconditionally. I believe He calls me to love others unconditionally. In John 4:10-11 we read:
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Because of God’s love I cannot stand idly by and allow my church, the United Methodist Church, to rewrite scripture in a manner that will lead those that I love down a path which separates them from God’s will. To do otherwise would do the same for me.
Yes, it’s all about love, unconditional love, a love so strong that you cannot help but take a stand, a stand like Jesus took for us. To do otherwise would violate Wesley’s First Rule by allowing harm to come to another.