“Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you” John 14: 27
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7.
Peace. This principle is much desired. We seem to encounter so much violence each day. We are living in a culture of violence that is creating great harm. We typically think of dramatic events like mass shootings, genocide, and war.
Yet, consider the acts of violence that are more subtle and yet just as painful, such as exclusion and dominance. There are numerous ways in which we do this, like not honoring another’s: language, culture, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, mental capabilities, or social abilities. It is challenging for us to think, act, and live differently.
We are called to a life of holy living. As United Methodists, we have been given guidance from John Wesley in how to live faithfully, in three very specific general rules, which are: do no harm; do good; and attend upon the ordinances of God.
I want to focus on the first general rule of “Do no harm.” In John Wesley’s societies it meant “no buying or selling of slaves,” “no conversations that are meant to tear others down,” and, asking one tough and personal question: “have you been buying luxuries for yourself instead of helping the poor?”
We are called to holy living, In so doing, must ask how we live this out. As a people living into “do no harm” and our conference understanding of “beloved community,” we: speak kindly and lovingly about and to each other; welcome all people to be part of the church; seek ways that honor language and cultural differences; foster relationships; and be reconciling – a people of grace and forgiveness.
More fully, “do no harm” requires us to move from an individual “me” focus to a more global “we,” all while remembering our “why.” We “do no harm” because Christ has loved us first and we extend that love to all.
As we approach our time together at Annual Conference, we are challenged to “do no harm,” especially as we approve resolutions of disaffiliation. We lament that we have come to a point and time when we can no longer be together. We might hold some resentments for things of the past, for the current journey of The United Methodist Church, or for the beginning of other forms of Methodism. We could be frustrated about the “how” and “why” of disaffiliation.
It is in this time and in these moments that I call upon us to “do no harm,” to look for ways to reconcile our hearts and minds to the way of Jesus, and to be the people of grace that God has called us to be.
“Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you” (John 14: 27).
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).