Why Not?

By Liza Kittle

I had the pleasure of leading a women’s retreat with one of my women’s ministry mentors, the Rev. Kris Key. It was a beautiful weekend spent with some lovely new sisters in Christ of the Mountain Valley United Parish in Cobleskill and Jefferson in upstate New York.

Kris told a story taken from David Platt’s best-selling book Radical about his friend Bullen who lives in a ravaged area of Sudan, devastated by twenty years of civil war. Thousands of his friends have been killed by a militant Muslim regime and he has grown up there alone since childhood, having been separated from his family. Despite all this hardship and pain, Platt was mesmerized by Bullen’s shining smile and outlook on life.

As Bullen and Platt sipped tea together in this downtrodden place, they talked about how God had worked in Bullen’s life, brought him to faith in Christ, and God’s plan for his future. Bullen looked at his friend and said, “David, I am going to impact the world.” With much skepticism, Platt asked Bullen how he was going to do this. “I’m going to make disciples of all nations,” Bullen said. David repeated back to him, “So you are going to impact the world by making disciples of all nations?” Bullen smiled big and said, “Why not?”

Bullen had the confidence and faith that he was going to impact the world. He believed in Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations and his life plan was to act in obedience. Platt contends that Bullen’s plan for his life is the same plan Jesus has for every individual life—by making disciples, each one of us can impact the world.

Many times as Christians, we lose sight of this central mandate of our Savior Jesus Christ. We question how we as individuals can impact the world and bring glory to God. We forget that God’s mission field is not only in Sudan, but also in our homes, neighborhoods, and the corner grocery store. Each one of us can make a difference in our own sphere of influence. Bullen didn’t focus on the massive destruction around him. He focused on what Jesus proclaimed for his disciples to do, one step at a time. Likewise, we shouldn’t let our circumstances overwhelm and derail us from Jesus’ proclamation that applies to us as well.

Many times as members of The United Methodist Church, we lose sight of Jesus’ call of impacting the world by making disciples. We seem to forget that sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples is the core purpose of the Christian life and we become complacent in our participation in this Great Commission. We begin to worship the institution more than Jesus.

Being a United Methodist can lead to many days of disillusionment. Clergy and lay members alike sometimes feel like just throwing in the towel and heading for the door. Things happen within the denomination that discourage and detract us from continuing in the spiritual battle for the heart and soul of The United Methodist Church.

Things like hearing that more than 1,000 clergypersons have signed a public statement declaring they will be available to participate in same sex unions, openly defying our Book of Discipline. Like hearing that the “Church Within A Church” Movement—a progressive group—has held another “extraordinary ordination” of an openly gay pastor in the presence and with the blessing of United Methodist leaders.

Things like reading that church leaders have participated in public political activism such as the recent group of United Methodist Women (UMW) leaders in New York marching in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Things like learning that the UMW partners with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that advocates for no restrictions on abortion access.

We ask ourselves, “How can we ever stand up against such pervasive pressure from so many fronts? How can I as one person really make a difference in this battle for our church? Can I make an impact on the global church?”

Yes. Why not?

Even in the face of mounting discouragement, it has never been more important for faithful United Methodists to stand firm and persevere. We have much at stake at General Conference 2012 and many important issues to address. Why not help the effort through daily prayer for this important conference? Why not become informed on all the issues by reading up on all the processes of General Conference and the issues? Why not help support the Renewal and Reform Coalition financially by making a generous donation for our presence in Tampa?

Why not…make a global impact on the world by keeping this historic denomination centered on Jesus and making disciples of all nations.

 

Liza Kittle is President of the Renew Network (www.renew-network.org), P.O. Box 16055, Augusta, GA 30919; telephone: 706-364-0166.