Clarity In The Mist
Methodism is in a state of turmoil. We have been going through it for quite some time now. Have you noticed? Have you heard the news?
When I talk to some of our members (some of whom are pastors), I’m reminded of bedtime stories in which a disaster is fastly approaching a peaceful village. The impending danger in such tales takes at times the form of a furious witch or an unstoppable dragon. Imagine with me the opening scene. The birds are chirping, families are happily working in their gardens, and youngsters are looking after the livestock. Little do they know what is happening outside of their world and what is about to befall them. This is how most Methodists in Central and Eastern Europe are living their Christian life. Too often they express the following attitude: “There’s no need to climb the hills around us or to inquire about the outside world from travelers. If we keep the news out, then nothing will even happen. The less we know, the more peace we have or at least for now.”
Don’t get me wrong! I understand the need for peace and happiness. The problem is that while things might look calm at the moment, this is not real. The longer we bury our heads in the sand, the more we decrease our opportunities to prepare.
What do we need to prepare for? Why even bother? Isn’t this whole problem an American one? Well, friend, it is not entirely an American problem. As you may have already heard, the British Methodist Church has decided with an overwhelming majority to accept same-sex marriages and cohabitation. A very similar road has been chosen by the German Methodists. We may be living peacefully in our lovely idealistic village in this part of Europe but the monster is approaching us and quickly.
What would you do if you were the mayor of the village in our bedtime story? I bet you would do whatever it takes to brace for impact, to learn the enemy’s tactics and to get organized to come out at the end of it not only alive but also stronger and with hope for the future.
Of course, in our case there is not a grand villain approaching from afar. No one is making plans to destroy us. Or at least not on purpose. Nevertheless, we need to get organized. At the very least, we must be aware of what is coming towards us. The problem we are facing is not a simple one, as many attempt to present it. Instead it is very complex. Most clearly it manifests itself as a question as to whether heterosexuals and homosexuals can have the same rights in the Church. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. It is also an issue of the authority of Scriptures. It is an issue of boundaries and leadership. It is a struggle for doctrine and orthodoxy. Christianity is and always has been counter-cultural. We need to face the culture around us – yes, even in Central and Eastern Europe – the culture that is pushing our boundaries increasingly. We need to decide where our boundaries end and where they begin. Our Christianity needs to follow God’s Word and not the culture we live in.
It is crucial to talk about these issues and to articulate clearly and plainly what our stance is on the matters threatening Methodism today. This is why we founded the Eastern European Regional Chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. Our goal is not to divide or break the church (as many say about us) but rather to raise the necessary questions that can prepare Methodists to choose the path they want to take. The crossroads will come whether we want it or not. The question of utmost importance is how you will make the decision. Will you face it well-informed, allowing no financial or other threats to sway you? You must know that you only need to be faithful to God and He will take care of all your needs. Just as Joshua asked the people of God at Sichem, we also will soon be asked to choose whom we shall serve. On this I am clear: As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD! Are you prepared to decide?