Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Election Day 2016 And Our Diversity

Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

RayMcDI have often been asked – at each church I have served – what I appreciate the most about the current church I am serving. One thing I appreciate about First UMC in Laurel is the diversity of our congregation.

When asked recently – I went on to explain what I meant by diversity. I told them of our wide range of ages at FUMCL – from a member who is 101 to youth and children. I mentioned our growing multi-ethnic flavor at FUMCL – with many hues of people. I mentioned our economic diversity as well – with some people on government assistance while others had well-paying jobs. The diversity I see at FUMCL reminds me of what I think heaven will be like – people of all races and nations – loving on Jesus.

As the elections approach – I see another diversity at FUMCL. As I read posts on social media from our members – I see our diversity around politics. There were a number of people I love and respect from our church expressing support for either candidate and for no candidate at all. (I believe Christians could vote for either candidate – God is not Democratic or Republican). Continue reading

October 24, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Vision, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Our Church Open?

Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

112015 Ray McDonaldThis was such a radical idea in the day that Paul lived.  The Jewish Church was not very open to people who were different than them or didn’t follow their rules.  Peter and some of the other disciples even wanted the Gentiles who came to Christ to become Jewish before they could become Christians.  Just like this picture of a cat and a dog sleeping together – some thought Paul was crazy to suggest what God gave him to write – You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

When Paul wrote in his Epistle (letter) to the churches in Galatia the words of today’s Scripture lesson – I would imagine that eyes rolled – some argued and some jumped ship.  No difference between Jew and Greek (Gentile = anyone not Jewish) – are you kidding me?  No difference between slaves (different type of slaves than early America but slaves none-the-less) and free – what is this radical religion you are writing about Paul?  No male or female – now you’re really stepping in it Paul.  There are differences for a reason.  I can hear some people saying separate but equal under their breath. Continue reading

February 20, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity in Christ

Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I was recently asked by a pastor what I appreciated most about Mt. Oak and one of the things I mentioned was the diversity in our congregation. I went on to explain what I meant by diversity and told them of our wide range of ages at Mt. Oak – from little babies to folks who are still active in the church in their 80’s and 90’s. I told them of our growing multi-ethnic flavor at Mt. Oak – with many hues of people. I told them of our economic diversity as well – with some people on government assistance while others had well-paying jobs. We talked for some time about our diversity – a picture of heaven I told them – different people all loving Jesus.

I mentioned to this clergy friend some other elements of our diversity as well. Never was our diversity at Mt. Oak more evident to me than reading Facebook last night as the election results were being revealed. There were a number of people I love and respect from our church expressing elation as their candidate was collecting enough electoral votes to remain President of the United States. At the same time there were a number of people I love and respect from our church expressing disappointment and even despair over their candidate lagging in the voting. (Yes – I believe Christians could vote for either candidate – God is not Democratic or Republican – lol).

Paul radically wrote these words – given him by God – in his day. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Diversity in Paul’s day was not a good thing. If you weren’t Jewish but rather a Gentile you were seen as a pagan – a Godless person. If you were female you were property. If you were a slave you had not rights what-so-ever. It was a radical concept to say there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Paul suggested that you didn’t need to be a Jewish free male to be a follower of Christ.

If I were to be so bold as to re-write this passage in today’s context – it might read like this. You are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, democrat nor republican, liberal nor conservative, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I saw something last night that touched my heart. A number of people on both sides of the election put up a picture that said No Matter Who’s President, Jesus Is King. I’m so glad that in the diversity at Mt. Oak – and there is much diversity – we can stand together behind Jesus and stand together against sin. Our politics may be different – but our love for Jesus is what connects us as the Body of Christ.  There is unity in Christ – even though we are diverse.  I know of many on both sides of the political aisle at Mt. Oak that voted against questions 6 & 7 for instance.

Moving forward – the election always stings some and harkens others. If our country is to pull itself out of our national debt and become a strong nation again we will need to work together. In our church – if we are to become a beacon of light on this hillside – we must use our diversity as a strength – even as we line up behind Jesus. We must keep our eyes on Jesus and not on our diversity or the storms around us.  We must stand opposed to sin and stand firm for truth.

I love our church family – with all of its diversity – even the day of and after the election. Whether my candidate was elected or wasn’t elected – we are one in Christ for we are all one in Christ Jesus. If we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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November 7, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor | , , , | 1 Comment

Jesus Came to Find the Lost – Thank You Jesus!

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Today I posted through Twitter that I was empty and was having a difficult time writing.  I almost didn’t write anything today but a dear sister in Christ prayed for me over Facebook and I feel revived.  Prayer works my friends – ask for prayer or pray for others – and watch God work!

Have you ever played hide and seek?  When I was a child we played hide and seek all the time.  I had an unfair advantage – because we lived next door to the church and behind the church was a graveyard.  I could hide there all night and no one would find me – they were afraid to come and look.  The cousins finally made a rule that we couldn’t go in the graveyard!  At least not at night!

Today’s passage says the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.  The lost – that be us folks!  We are or were the lost that Jesus came to find.

We just finished remembering and celebrating Holy Week – a time when we are reminded of the love that Christ showed by coming to earth and continuing to carry His cross from before time began to Golgotha.  He came – carrying His cross – to find the lost.

Jesus has found the lost in the worst and best places – in a variety of places.  The lost have been found addicted to pornography – alcohol – drugs – abuse – power – food – and more.  The lost have been found in the gutters of the streets – in the high priced communities – in the schools – in the business world – in the prisons – and in the church among a few of the places.  The lost are red – yellow – black – white and brown.  They are married and single – they have children or have none – they have large families or no families.

Paul writes this truth about the found – Galatians 3:26-29 – 26 You are all sons (and daughters) of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I’m so glad that Jesus came to find the lost – because I was once lost – but now I am found – I was blind – but now I can see.  Christ found me – so I have a promise – a promise of eternity with Jesus!  This eternity begins now – not just when I die and pass from this life to the next.  Thank you Jesus for coming to find me!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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April 10, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , | Leave a comment

Does Our Church Reach Out To Everyone?

Galatians 3:26-29

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

This was such a radical idea in the day that Paul lived.  The Jewish Church was not very open to people who were different than them or didn’t follow their rules.  Peter and some of the other disciples even wanted the Gentiles who came to Christ to become Jewish before they could become Christians.  Just like this picture of a cat and a dog sleeping together – some thought Paul was crazy to suggest what God gave him to write – You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

When Paul wrote in his Epistle (letter) to the churches in Galatia the words of today’s Scripture lesson – I would imagine that eyes rolled – some argued and some jumped ship.  No difference between Jew and Greek (Gentile = anyone not Jewish) – are you kidding me?  No difference between slaves (different type of slaves than early America but slaves none-the-less) and free – what is this radical religion you are writing about Paul?  No male or female – now you’re really stepping in it Paul.  There are differences for a reason. I can hear some people saying separate but equal under their breath.

For Paul to suggest that all who come to Christ were the same – no matter their station in the society they lived – was radical!  It was life changing for those who were in a lesser station and it was challenging to-say-the-least for those who were in a higher station in life.  Some people had worked hard for their station in life after all.  To say that our social and religious stations had little meaning to Christ – that He sees us all the same when we come to Him – is radical to-say-the-least.

Yet some 2,000 years later – has the Christian church put these words from God through Paul into practice?  I would say – some – but not fully – not nearly enough.  Instead of giving my thoughts on how we are not fully complying with this word of truth in the church today – I would love to hear from our readers first.  Where can the church in general – or our church in particular – be more faithful to this passage from Galatians?  How can we more faithfully follow this teaching in a community made up of a mixture of people – male & female – many difference hues of color – and economically mixed among other differences?  Can we realize that all people are the same in Christ while keeping certain stations in the church?  Do we fall back on the safe statement that we cannot be all things to all people (a good statement by the way) or do we get down and get dirty trying to present Christ to ALL people?  Is it more important to save our station in the church than to reach another soul for Jesus?  Are there intentional things we should do to reflect this Scripture more fully?

I await your thoughts.  I know this post may or may not be as controversial as some of my posts that cause great discussion – but I think it is significant.  I encourage you to engage in the discussion.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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February 28, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor | , | Leave a comment

   

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