“Living as United Methodist Christians”

“I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)

During the Lenten season, we had Lenten Bible study, using a book called, “Living as United Method-ist Christians: Our Story, Our Beliefs, and Our Lives,” written by Andy and Sally Langford. This Lenten Bible study allowed us to rethink our identity and live and grow as United Methodist Christians. For new and renew-al membership, it would be an opportunity to equip ourselves as United Methodist Christians. Knowing about its history, organization, and beliefs might help us find a way to go forward in the future. Somehow, we, Unit-ed Methodist Christians, face a crisis through a rumor of division, aging, and the COVID 19 pandemic. The more that happens, we should look back to how our church started, how we became Christians, and why we are here, as if we had lost our way, we tract to the first point. Throughout the classes, we discover hope and gratitude in “Living as United Methodist Christians.” The participants have said, “We are proud to be United Methodist Christians,” “The other members have an opportunity to learn about this class,” “we may apply these good things to our church and our faith.” We have hope because God is still working for us, and we grow in faith by God’s grace.

Methodists began from a Bible study group named “Holy Club” with John Wesley and three young men, who desired to know more about the Bible and God at Oxford University. They had a methodical pattern of biblical study, prayer, fasting, and serving the poor. Their pattern and footsteps to follow Jesus gave them a name, “Methodists.” They believed that the Bible is the primary source for hearing God’s call on our lives. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley was called, “a person of one book, the Bible.” The tradition became a belief that United Methodist Christians are the “people of the Bible.” Through reading and listening to the Bible, we can discover everything we need to know about God and our relationship with God. When we read and reflect on the Bible’s words, the Holy Spirit stirs within us, and God reveals how we are called to be formed in the image of Jesus. United Methodists beliefs and practices are grounded in Scripture, informed by Christian tradition, enlivened by experience, and tested by reason. It is called “Wesleyan Quadrilateral.” It is a criterion to interpret our faith in everyday life.

United Methodists believe that the primary message of the Bible is God’s grace. Based on, God’s grace is for everyone, we emphasize openness and inclusiveness. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, cultural back-ground, we welcome everyone to the church, worship, Communion, and God’s kingdom. We identify with the church universal because of John Wesley’s openness to other Christians, “all Christians belong to one body of Christ.” Whether one believes in God or not, God’s grace is open for everyone. God’s grace leads us to the “Scripture way of Salvation”: prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace. God’s grace comes be-fore one knows about God. It is prevenient grace that reveals our sin and enables us to respond to God’s call to seek God’s forgiveness. Justifying grace brings us into a right relationship with God and assures us that we are beloved children of God. Sanctifying grace helps us grow as Christian disciples and leads us to a life in perfect harmony with God and others. We grow in faith by God’s grace, which leads us to love God and love our neighbors.

We emphasize the importance of faith or our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and at the same time, our love for God is made real through good work. While faith is essential for a meaningful relationship with God, our relationship with God also takes shape through our care for people, the community, and creation itself. United Methodists hold in healthy tension the values of faith and works. Our vision is that the world will know us, not only by our warm hearts but also by our willingness to lend a helping hand. We have the Three General Rules for faith into action: “Do no harm,” “Do good,” and “Stay in love with God.” The first rule of “doing no harm” avoids evil of every kind for others and ourselves. We are expected not only to avoid evil; we are called to do what is right. Doing good of every possible sort means doing things like giving food to the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting or helping those who are sick or in prison. Furthermore, we try to stay in love with God, attending to God’s ordinances such as worship, receiving the Communion, praying, reading the Bible, fellowship, small group, and fasting. Through all kinds of means of grace, we may grow in faith day by day.

The thing we shouldn’t disregard is that God calls us to be good stewards of God. John Wesley gave us good lessons to be good stewards: “Earn all you can,” “save all you can,” and “give all you can.” The first rule, “Earn all you can,” shows us a way of participating in God’s activity in the world, and people should work honestly and fairly. The second rule, “save all you can,” calls us to a simple lifestyle. And the third rule, “give all you can,” gives meaning to the first two rules. Earning and saving are preludes to giving to God and our neighbors.
We are called to love God and love neighbors. Ephesians 4:1, “I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” encourages us to live as those who are worthy of God’s call, challenging and inspiring us. Whenever we commit to becoming worthy of our calling, we discover that we are not alone, and then there is hope. United Methodist Christians are a universal and connectional church. God’s grace is present in all of our spiritual disciples, empowering us to be ever more loving in our thoughts and actions. We are proud of being United Methodist Christians because God called us “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We vow that “as members of Christ’s universal church, we will be loyal to the United Methodist Church, and do all in our power to strengthen its ministries, and we will faithfully participate in its ministries by our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.”

Blessings, Pastor Jenny Lee