Leaders in the Church are often asked to speak about sin and evil. For a wide variety of reasons, people want bishops to declare this act or that behavior as sinful. This is always challenging and charged with great emotion. The condition of sin and the commitment of individual sins are not the same thing. To commit a sin is not equivalent to being sinful. Jesus said, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32) For United Methodists, it is important to reflect on what might constitute the unforgiveable sin?
The most powerful evidence of the Holy Spirit in our United Methodist heritage is the defining and abiding commitment to evangelism, missions, and social justice. These three core principle commitments make us who we are, and we believe they are the God-given, Holy Spirit-driven mandate that defines our mission and purpose. We make disciples – equipping people to share the Christian faith, to give generously and sacrificially, and to stand with the poor, the marginalized, and the stranger – so that our world may more closely resemble the kingdom of heaven. We are a Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 25:31-46, Deuteronomy 10:19; Philippians 2:1-18 Church (look them up) that is blessed in so many ways to be a blessing to others.
I see a terrible sin being committed in our world today – the pending treatment of Dream Act (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) young people through legislative action. Why do I feel this is sin? The original meaning of the word we translate as “sin” was “to miss the mark,” or to stray from the true way. The true way, as defined for Christian people, is to break down all dividing walls, and to understand that the vision of God is unity, reconciliation, healing, and wholeness. Jesus, and subsequently Paul, spoke against artificial divisions of “us” and “them,” those who belong and those who don’t. Both our Hebrew scriptures and our Christian testament envision a reality where economic, ethical, and restorative justice prevails. Those who have share with those who have not; and those with advantage empower those with less power.
Our great nation has been blessed in ways the rest of the world has not. Part of what makes our nation great is its ability to impact lives for the greater common good. Education, economic advantages, technology, and effective language skills offer great power to bring about positive change. We offer this to hundreds of thousands of young people – young people who will in turn work to make our world a better place. DACA is one pathway to making our nation great again, and as the body of Christ we should support any and all efforts to bring light, healing, and justice to our world. This is not a political issue, but a spiritual issue.
My regular invitation to you is to pray. I once again call United Methodists throughout our state and Conference to pray. But I also call you to act – to act in the name of Christ as evangelists, missionaries, and champions for justice. Contact your Senators (Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin) and your congresspersons (Sean Duffy, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher, Paul Ryan, Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, and F. James, Sensenbrenner, Jr.) to let them know that you support our young people, and believe in justice for all. Let us rally to say “no” to the deportation of our brothers and sisters. Let us stand together firmly on the gospel of Jesus Christ as we proclaim the good news, serving all nations, with mercy, compassion, and care for all.
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).