In 1858, Abraham Lincoln stated that "A house divided against itself cannot stand," referencing, of course, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 12. This is not a new concept, and for Christians it should be a central belief as we look at our world, our country, our own church, and such tragedies as the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Our divisions threaten to destroy us.
There is a very simple, yet important question that every United Methodist should be wrestling with: are those things that divide us greater than the God who unites us? Where does the power lie? Can we honestly call ourselves a people of faith when we act and speak as if our differences are greater than the one who creates us, redeems us, and sustains us?
What purpose is served by self-righteousness? What possible good can come from prejudices and biases and hostility? There is a very fine line between righteous indignation and downright hatred. In a world where ideologies clash, and result in violence and murder, the Church absolutely must proclaim a witness of peace and restoration. The Church provides us with a vision of God’s will, and proposes that we might be one. One in Christ. One with each other. One in ministry to all the world. One baptism, one Lord, one Spirit, one God. There is simply no place for divisions to destroy us when we are the children of God, who is greater than any and all of our differences.
Once again, we must be a people of prayer who set aside differences and divisions to unite around the love and grace that transforms the world. We can LEAD in a world that is lost, and locked into a spiral of violence, contempt and condescension. Let us commit to be light in darkness, hope in despair, and healing in brokenness. Read statements from other bishops.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).