Overcoming the world

By Jessica Brodie

Three models—one far left, one far right, one smack in the middle. Three starting points for the future of The United Methodist Church.

Which path is best? These? Another? None?

Only God knows.

I write this a week after the Commission on a Way Forward presented their report to the United Methodist Council of Bishops. The commission and COB left things pretty open-ended, and I think that’s a very good thing. Frankly, I’d be frightened if the commission had served up the golden answer on a silver platter. They were careful about noting they are not tied to these models at all, that they’d be flexible about tweaking them, that more models might in fact emerge as time passes.

Left, right, center. Whatever way we vote, someone won’t be happy. That’s a guarantee.

But I’m OK with that—because it’s not up to me, or you, or any of us. And the more we worry about the choices before us, the more “me” we put in the decision-making process, the less Spirit-inspired our outcome will be.

What does the Bible say about decision-making, anyway?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Trust God. Ask God. God knows.

Our bishop is calling every South Carolinian to join in a week of deep prayer this month, Dec. 24-30: for the commission, for the mission of the denomination and for God’s mighty hand of wisdom and guidance upon us all.

We need to continue that prayer—on Dec. 31, in January and throughout 2018. We need to pray at all times and in all circumstances for God, and only God, to guide us. What happens to the UMC is not important in the big picture. What happens regarding God’s Kingdom and the souls we impact for Christ is the only important thing. Period.

In the book of John, Jesus offered His disciples words of comfort: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (16:33).

Take heart, my friends, and focus on Jesus. Accept His peace. Trust that God will guide us.

Everything will be OK.

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