I really like living out my Christian faith through the United Methodist tradition. Our emphasis on personal piety and social engagement is one of the aspects I love most. It truly is a “middle way” that holds in tension Evangelicalism’s concern for personal, Christian development, and Progressivism’s heart for justice. At its best, United Methodism holds these two together – united, so to speak – in its efforts to live into The Way of Jesus, who healed people both spiritually and physically.
Yesterday our local paper had an article about a man who police officers saved after having overdosed on heroine. He was found convulsing just three blocks from where my family and I live.
On our end of town, poverty rates, drug use, and single-parent homes are “above normal” when compared to state statistics. If there was a statistic for profanity usage, then judging from conversations I hear outside our fence we would probably rate pretty well in that category too. Moreover, the only grocery stores on the entire south end of our city are Dollar General and gas stations. This is a problem for the majority of my neighbors whose primary means of transportation are mopeds and their own two feet. Expanding beyond our neighborhood and going into the rest of the community, there aren’t many healthy, safe outlets for our town’s young people. There are two beautiful parks, which are used readily. There is our community’s library that offers a space where teens can hangout at after school. Thankfully there is now also a small waterpark which has been a blessing to our city, but it caters primarily to younger families…and those who can afford to pay the $4 entry fee.
I shared some of these concerns and issues with my District Superintendent who asked me a very simple question: “What’s the Church going to do about that?”
What is the Church going to do about that? About these issues? About others?
The heart of that question, of course, is what am I going to do about the issues I see around me? I am a Christian, living out my faith through the United Methodist tradition. I am part of the Church. My hands and my feet and my money and my time and my skills…are Christ’s. People often wonder why God isn’t more actively working to alleviate the injustices of the world. Well…what are you allowing God to do through you? How are you spending your money? Where are you spending your time? How are you creating solutions, not just naming problems?
And these questions are precisely what my United Methodist tradition regularly asks of me. I don’t have the luxury of thinking just about myself anymore, about my own family, my own circles of friends, my own church. My own Christ-like development is inextricably linked to how I live out my faith, how I care for others, where I spend my money, in what I’m going to do “about that.” In order to grow spiritually, I must also care for people physically.
It’s time for the Church in America to be more concerned about the question “What’s the Church going to do about that?” than whether or not our political influence and Sunday morning worship numbers are waning.
It’s time to get back to Jesus.
What are you going to do about that?