The worldwide United Methodist Church has been meeting in St. Louise, Mo. to discuss some very significant changes to the orthodoxy of the denomination.
Like most of our country this conference has revealed the United Methodist denomination to be filled with people of vastly different perspectives on a number of different issues. We have also proved ourselves to not always rise above the trap of polarization, though our conference is a worthy attempt. Diversity is simply a reality. There are many different thinking people, and as our technological development continues to progress our abilities in communications and transportation, the different human nuances find themselves in closer and more frequent contact with one another. There is really no escaping, “the other”.
The by-product of the world’s diversities being in greater and greater contact is that new perspectives grow out of the interaction. In the midst of this very evident social evolution, there are none-the-less people that will hold strong to their foundations and uniqueness. There are some that would celebrate this adherence to tradition and history, and others that would advocate for progress and change, and still others that look around and deny change and evolution, observing instead the same human condition that has plagued us since the dawn of humanity.
I will not pretend to have a magic formula of love that allows us to all “just get along.” It would seem that the world is intended to have diversity, and that humanity must find a way to make harmony in the midst of that diversity. Harmony, not homogeny.
As a young man from Texas, born into conservative values at home, having explored different ideas in college and, then attempting to balance my experiences in seminary as I pursued ordination in the United Methodist church, and even now as clergy, just beginning my journey into maturing adulthood, I have found myself filled with diverse ideas and perspectives.
In the Spirit of Socrates, I can confirm that the one thing I can say for certain is that I can say very little, for certain. I have tried to live my life in each stage and phase holding as true to my convictions as possible, while offering others as much respect as possible to do the same. I try not to fear the other and I try and let the other, be the other, just as I hope the other will let me be, me. We do not have to agree with, approve of or celebrate other people or their choices to still offer them full respect.
Jesus made no hesitation telling folks when they were in the wrong and yet he respected all those that differed from him, which is all people, enough to die on their behalf so that they might continue to encounter God, and grow and evolve into a more perfect creation.
It is that kind of love that moves people beyond themselves. Not love because we agree, but love in spite of our diversity.