I can’t get the hymn, “In Christ There Is No East or West” out of my mind as I participate in our ongoing discussions around the Worldwide Nature of the United Methodist Church.
It is easy to sing and celebrate our unity in mission. Across the globe there are signs of spiritual transformation flowing out of the congregations and ministries of United Methodism. As the hymn states, our joining hands in the disciple-making mission of Christ is the “golden cord” that binds us together.
Like in so many areas of our Christian experience, there is a “present” and a “not yet” dimension to United Methodism’s pursuit of fully living as a worldwide church.
You do not have to look hard to find examples of this unrealized vision, especially when you begin talking about our organization, structure and governance. One can feel the struggle of the “not yet” whenever the inevitable power-shifting discussions unfold. As in any system, those with power naturally seek to protect their control and influence.
It doesn’t take long in these conversations to have the Apostle Paul’s teaching about the Body of Christ challenge me to fully recognize and value each part of the body. For me, I suppose the core question we are pursuing is what would our church look like if we more fully lived up to Paul’s image of the Body of Christ?
The last verse of the hymn places before us an invitation as we continue to prayerfully discuss and discern matters related to the worldwide nature of The United Methodist Church.
In Christ now meet both east and west,
in him meet south and north;
all Christly souls are one in him
throughout the whole wide earth.
In Christ There Is No East or WestThe United Methodist HymnalHymn 548
Brad is Pastor of Perry United Methodist Church in the SouthGeorgia Annual Conference. He has been active in almost every aspect of the Church including pastoring local churches, serving as District Superintendent, as Director of Connectional Ministries for 11 years, as Conference Secretary for 13 years and as SEJ Conference Secretary from 2008-2012.