By Ted Brosius
I’ve been following the church’s General Conference via blog posts and tweets on the Conference website. So far, it’s been very intriguing. I’m not sure what will come out of this whole process–I have friends who may be very hurt and disappointed by the actions of this conference, no matter what the decisions end up being. What I am seeing on the website is a great deal of young adult interest and desire in changing/adapting the church to be something greater/better/different than it is. What exactly that will be, no one really seems to be able to say.
One theme coming through (and I am from the more liberal Western Jurisdiction) is inclusion for all, and a Christ-centered ministry of love for all who choose Christ as their Saviour. I pray for the church as it goes through this process of finding and discerning the will and guidance of God for the next four years. But, to paraphrase Lincoln, if we seem to have made mistakes, the best cure is the next General Conference. We shall see, pray, and reflect.
The last week or so, I have been reading Helmut Thielicke’s sermons on the Lord’s Prayer. I have read as far as Thielicke’s “Thy will be done” sermon tonight. I think this line especially needs to be kept in mind by the church as we move through the next week.
What is God’s will? Can we say that we “know” for sure that what we think is His will is not our own in disguise? The problem with being human, is we can never be sure we’re not putting ourselves and our own views on God.
Ah well, nobody’s perfect, right?
It’s things like this that always remind me of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral– the four things we have to take into account to help us discern God’s will in this world. I wonder which we are putting the most weight on–tradition, Scripture, experience, or reason. I have reason (no pun intended) to believe that we are flawed in all four aspects–tradition is often a disguise for maintaining the status quo for its own sake, not for any real good purpose; Scripture can (and has) been used to justify many things reprehensible (slavery comes to mind as one major example); experience is coloured by our own worldviews, which can be skewed in many weird ways; and reason itself can be corrupt, depending on what it’s used for (our ends, its own, or those of some authority). Only by using all four in balance and tension can we hope (mind you, only hope) to come close to something that is beyond ourselves and our immediate wants/needs/desires. Let’s see how close we come this time round.
Like our own lives, the church’s faith journey is a work in progress, with steps forward, back, sideways, and totally off track. I pray we find the path which God will have us follow this time round, and not take any setbacks and sidetracks as mistakes, but as moments in which we failed to discern God’s will, points from which we can start anew on that long walk with God into His kingdom.
Photo Credit: “Communal Chucks” by flickr user Evil Erin