Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Is Holiness Still Our Call?

Matthew 28:18–20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Today’s passage is called the Great Commission. It is often seen as the marching orders for the Christian church. We are called to go and make disciples of or for Jesus Christ (whichever makes the most sense to you – lol). In the early years of the Methodist movement – making disciples – followers of Christ – seemed to be the main focus. Revivals and Camp Meetings were all the rage and altar calls were common place in Methodist worship – as pastors challenged parishioners to be transformed after the likeness of Christ. I remember revivals and camp meetings and altar calls and still use them today.

Early Methodists were called to holiness – they were part of the holiness movement in the United States for instance. We were taught to study the Word of God (the Bible) and to strive to live our lives after what it taught. We were even encouraged to avoid some of the ills of our society. The way it was explained to me (as a third generation Methodist pastor) – Methodists were encouraged to abstain from alcohol – from playing cards – from dancing – even from playing pool. The reason – again as it was explained to me – was because these social activities were often associated with bars and night clubs – with gambling and behavior and places that were not appropriate for folks striving to follow after Christ. We were encouraged to avoid even the appearance of evil or sin. We were encouraged to keep Sunday set aside for the Lord. In my home growing up – Sunday was a day for worship and Sunday School in the morning – a family lunch – a nap time – youth group – and worship in the evening. Sunday was a day set aside for being with God and with other Christians.

Correct me if I am wrong – but – I just don’t see the United Methodist Church of today – in many places – in many churches – as part of the holiness movement any longer. I rarely hear or read about the UMC calling people to Scriptural holiness. I rarely hear about revivals and camp meetings. What I often hear – even from some of our clergy and Bishops – is a caving to social norm – to the sin of society. I hear tolerance preached and taught rather than holiness. It seems like we are trying to be popular rather than faithful. I hope I’m not being too harsh. Correct me if I am – please.

I would love to hear/read from others how they see the United Methodist Church today. We say we want to transform the world – but into what likeness? Are we striving to call people to Christ – to His holiness – or to some cultural PC (politically correct) faith? Here is a link to what the church believes – United Methodists Believe. Are we holding to these teachings and beliefs? Is our UM Church preaching holiness or a watered down version of PC Christianity (if there is such a thing)?

What is your take on the Great Commission? Is our local church taking this seriously? Can we have open hearts – open minds – and open doors (a current slogan or motto) and still preach holiness? Can we actually love people while calling them to leave a life of sin? An old slogan was each one win one – yet I asked – what are we winning souls to Christ or not? Are we pointing people toward Jesus these days or to something else?

Do we feel worship in our church home draws us into the presence of Christ? Do we feel that the teachings and preachings in our church challenges our personal walk with Christ – calling us to holiness? If so – praise the Lord – tell me about it – I would love to hear that I am not seeing all that the church today has to offer. If not – what can we do to draw our church – the UMC – back to a holiness movement? How can drawing people to Christ and reminding them of the teachings of Christ be central in our houses of worship again (if indeed they are not now)?

Maybe I’m just having a bad day. Maybe I am way off. We do need to realize that God’s grace (the topic from Sunday’s sermon at First UMC in Laurel) covers our sins – but we also need to know what sin is in our lives so that we can confess it and turn from it (repent). Confession only comes when we are convicted by the Holy Spirit that we are sinning – and how will we know if someone doesn’t preach/teach what Godliness – holiness – is today?

I love the United Methodist Church – our heritage and our roots. Even at the age of nearly 64 I would love to be an active part of the transformation of the church and of the world – calling folks to Christ and to His holiness. Who is with me?

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way!

P.S. – Each day in 2019 – as we approach February 23rd and the Special General Conference of the UMC – spend 5 minutes praying for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of the delegates. Thanks.

February 6, 2019 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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