I want to share part of my sermon from Jan 20, 2019 with you as we wait for the results from the upcoming 2019 Special General Conference being held February 23 – 26, 2019. I Hope and pray that this sermon will help you (the congregation) with how we solve this issue in the love of God as children of the same God and the same church family.
“Let Us Stay United. -1 Corinthians 12:1-11-”
In all ages, it is not easy to recognize and respect the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. People usually tend to reject or feel threatened by something different or something new. However, obviously, each one of us is given different gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we all received the same gift, with no difference at all, it would be rather strange. The Message records 1 Corinthians 12:7 this way: “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.” The Corinthians misunderstood something different as something wrong. But, different is different. How can we say you are wrong because you are different?
Although we all have received various gifts of the Holy Spirit abundantly, we do not use them wisely in the church. We do not use them to be one with Christ and one with each other and to work together, united in Spirit. Instead we continue to disunite and to judge each other. However, we need to remember that in spite of all the differences, we are one, united with Christ and with one another in the Spirit of God.
For a long time, the United Methodist Church could not be truly united in one Spirit because many people have different understandings of Human Sexuality. Even though we believed that the Bible is definitively the primary source of our faith and theological reflection for United Methodists, each party – fundamentalist and progressivist- have different ways to interpret the scripture. They fight each other with completely different interpretations on the same scriptures. They interpret them to strengthen their voice. However, for all Christians, the focal point of the Bible should always be Jesus Christ. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus gave us the great commandment: love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbors as yourself. All the Laws and the Prophets depend on these two commands.
Until now, we spent so much time and energy trying to define who is right and who is wrong, but from this effort, the only thing that we have found out is just how different we are from each other. Now it is the time to sincerely pray and think about how we speak together about all the differences. Since we are different, we need each other. Argument, conflict, judgement, and division are not the way forward. We need to focus on how we walk together for the kingdom of God and go altogether for it beyond our differences.
Remember, whether you support the fundamentalist or progressivist viewpoint or just stay in the middle, each one of us is a neighbor to each other whom Jesus taught us to love. As we have always been, by the Spirit of God we are one in Christ and one with each other in ministry to all the world until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Let us stay united. Praise God. Amen.
Pastor Kook Ho