Words of Encouragement and Counsel from the Regional Director of the East Ohio WCA
by Dr Chet Harris
Word of Encouragement for United Methodist: Holy Spirit ‘Valued’
I like to collect art. I need to be perfectly honest with you. I collect art existentially or only in my mind. My personal art museum contains the works of Georges Rouault. He is representative of the expressionist artist with unbridled imagination and on the edge of extreme exaggeration. His works related to Christianity are captivating, at least to me. His depiction of the crucifixion resides in my gallery. Another artist is light years away from Rouault, Clyde Singer. Singer’s painting are scenes from life. He was from Malvern and his art is much sought after by collector regional art. I admire and appreciate the way he captures an everyday scene in life and interprets the scene by highlighting the minute details of action. Recently, I went to a local auction for the purpose of checking out an advertised Singer painting. They had it propped up on a table against a wall with dozens of other pieces of junk art. I came early enough to give a carefully examination of the small, but exquisite painting of a singular person just walking through life. I observed it was painted on a piece of wood and one corner was slightly damaged and literally pealing off. A small crowd of people gathered around me and inquired if I knew anything about the Singer painting. Yes and no. I am not an art authority. I knew this painting and had taken the time to track down the previous owner. It was genuine. If purchased the owner could have it restored, but I would prefer to keep it as presented. The damaged enhanced the story depicted in the painting. Five people stood around the painting. Most simply did not believe it was authentic. One man placed his hand on my shoulder and asked what I thought. It is genuine and I gave him the name of the painting, date, and where it was painted. One of the observes asked me, “What about the damage to the corner painting? I replied, “The painting will require care not to increase the damage, but my friend this is a very special piece of art. Remember I am not an authority. I love art.” The auction commenced and within the hour the Singer painting was held before the crowd. I made the first bid which would be my last bid. The five people I shared my limited knowledge began to bid against each other. It sold for a spectacular price. Why? The five people interested in the painting were hesitant to seriously consider the painting as genuine because of the damage and it was painted on an old piece of wood that was warping. Until, I shared it was the real deal, authentic. The winning bidder would own an original Clyde Singer painted on a very peculiar medium which served to enhance the worth and uniqueness. Most people in the room just shook their heads with bewilderment expressing why would anyone spend so much money on a picture painted on an old board!
Because the authentic, the real deal, is passed and ignored by many, but not all. They do not recognize the value of something that is flawed, even little warped, and with rough edges.
This description is a pristine analogy of God’s creation called human beings, yes, all of us are a little warped and rough along the edges. But even more so, it is a nudge or reminder that we are called to recognize the value of all people. God values us. We need to pray the Holy Spirit remove the visor of bias, prejudice, and expectation that only the perfect person is welcome in our churches. Ask yourself the hard question, “Do I want a church filled with obviously broken, struggling, rough around the edges people?” Additional and most relevant question, “Are we willing to change our approach to ministry, including worship and outreach ministries to match the needs of the people who have yet said yes to the redemptive love of Jesus?”
Unless we move toward an informed yes to both these questions, we will continue to spin our ecclesiastical wheels in the mire of continuing to do ministry just like we did before the birthing of a new denomination. Dare I suggest with the same results. Creating a new denomination is not a church growth strategy. Being open to the Creator’s counsel and adopting His view of the spiritually lost will open the door to church growth.
I believe God has called us to this moment of separation for the purpose of reaching the unredeemed with the transforming love of Jesus. The fresh wind of the Holy Spirit is moving and empowering the believers in the fullness of the Scripture to bring renewal, revival, and healing to all God’s people.
Recently I read in the introduction of Thomas C. Oden’s, “The Rebirth of Orthodoxy: Signs of Life in Christianity,” what I believe is prophetic word for all of us. “Those made alive by the Spirit, grounded in sacred scripture, come to these times confidently. Laypeople whose lives have been quickened and stabilized by the emergent vitality of classic Christianity and Judaism are now living and breathing in a refreshing atmosphere. This century promises to be a pivotal period of opportunity, recovery, and rebuilding. Long-set-aside possibilities and aptitudes for spiritual deepening again have relevance and power, even though they are disdained by the knowledge elites and media managers.”
God’s expectation is to reach people with the saving knowledge of Jesus, biblically disciple new believers, roll up our sleeves and genuinely make a difference in our communities, and live in the freshness and nowness of the Holy Spirit. We must see the value of all people through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. We must dare to minister beyond the humanly rational boundaries of money, methodology, and motives. Let us dare to build the Kingdom of God not on our resources, but the infinite resources of the Holy Spirit.
Ezekiel 37:11-14 11 Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'"
John 14:17 17 The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
All for the Kingdom,
Chet Harris, Regional Director
Wesley Covenant Association
Note: Contact the East Ohio WCA if you are interested in a representative sharing with your church about the future decisions regarding the potential separation from the UMC. 330.936.8531 or Recontre2@aol.com
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