The UMC is broken. There is talk of schism everywhere. People are busying themselves preparing their arguments and justifying their positions. The discussion is intense, the debate fierce. The name calling escalates and the people continue to fracture. And it is a good thing. Let me repeat that, it is a good thing. Think about it really. What do we tell people? Be broken before God. We use an amazing amount of cliches. Nothing can be fixed until you know it is broken. God loves the broken, and on and on. We even call Him the God of the broken.
Let me give you a scenario. A member of your church comes to you. It is a well known fact that their life is a mess. In shambles really. Divorce is imminent, the custody battles over children and property are inevitable. To many hurtful words, to much disobedience to one
another to ever return from and heal from. The only solution is divorce. Separation. Removal from one another. The only options seem to be stay together and be miserable or split apart and go your separate ways. Would we just tell them to go ahead and spit? Maybe, but should we? Shouldn’t we examine what has happened in the past, what can be possible in the future? Shouldn’t we encourage them to make every effort possible to come to a point where a rift is not the only option? There are many stories of failed marriage, and they are all tragic, but there are also many stories of marriages that survive the difficulties and emerge stronger and more vibrant than they were before. With divorce, we morn, but with reconciliation we rejoice. Why is it that we are treating the bride of Christ and the marriage that He shares with His church differently?
I am hopeful in the brokenness of the UMC. We all know that it is broken. We all can see that it is not functioning as intended. Let’s treat her like the bride of Christ that she is. Stop laying blame and pointing fingers. Stop calling names and hurling accusations. A marriage is between two, and the marriage of the church is no different, it is Christ and His church. I fear that with this divorce we will find ourselves in the position of asking where is Christ in all of this and His answer will be simple…”I was not the one who left”. Make no doubt, the failure of the UMC will be nothing less than us failing Christ. A lot of people make light of the “third way” option, but I think that they are mistaken. There is no third way, there is only one. That way is unity in the body of Christ. That way is the marriage of Christ and His church. That way is moving forward together. Call it amicable separation, call it schism, call it anything that you like, but understand what it actually is. It is us failing Christ. It is the church leaving her husband. Know that when you speak of and work toward separation, that is what your goal actually is.