A couple of weeks ago the Biblepoint of my sermon was; God asks, “Where are you?” Let’s follow up with that thought process. During the sermon we spoke about Christians who are not maturing or growing up in Christ. We spoke about orthodoxy, which is defined as authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice. When I refer to orthodoxy in the midst of a sermon, I’m referring to the generally accepted doctrine of the Christian church. Items like the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed are great examples of generally accepted Christian beliefs or principles. I’m also referring to the accepted principles or policies of the United Methodist church as contained in the Book of Discipline. I understand that people within a church come from various places, backgrounds and experiences… that the population of a given church is not totally identical (meaning that the church is uniform or the same throughout). Everyone is entitled to and encouraged to read the Bible and glean their personal understanding of the doctrine God has shared with us. Often, as people attempt that undertaking, (Biblical understanding) their beliefs vary. Isn’t that why we see a plethora of Christian denominations throughout the world? Various denominations, by and large, differ in how they interpret various scriptures in the Bible. What makes us United Methodist is the Book of Discipline. It contains the doctrine or principles that we have adopted as members of the UMC. Our orthodoxy is about the general principles of the Christian faith and the doctrine we have adopted as Methodists. If you have questions, I would be glad to chat with you about the doctrine of the UMC. It is right that we have defined who we are and what we believe. Orthodoxy is important, but it isn’t the only thing we need to consider.
Orthopraxy is also important. Orthopraxy is defined as the belief that right action is as important as religious faith. Orthodoxy is about “right or correct beliefs” where as orthopraxy is about “doing the right or correct” actions or thing(s). Orthopraxy could be thought of as how we live out the faith we espouse or believe. To have one without the other is not a balanced life as a Christian. We need to believe correctly and we need to do or minister correctly. We often hear about the Quadrilateral that Wesleyan theology seemed to promote (though Wesley himself never actually spoke or used the term “quadrilateral”.) The Wesleyan quadrilateral was a phrase coined by Albert Outler as he was trying to summarize John Wesley’s theology. The four parts of the quadrilateral were scripture, tradition, reason and Christian experience. Tradition, reason and Christian experience were important as Wesley formed the doctrine of Methodism BUT scripture was always the primary or foundational aspect of the quadrilateral. Tradition, reason and Christian experience were subject to the scriptures or the “Word of God”.
I think most of us are here because we believe the doctrine the UMC promotes. I mean if you didn’t believe what UMC doctrine is, why would you be here, right?
But we also need to think about the actions we are called to consider as Christians and UMC “believers”. Let’s look at part of the Baptismal Covenant where we pledge ourselves to Jesus Christ and to the church:
“As members of Christ’s universal church, will you be loyal to Christ through the United Methodist Church, and do all in your power to strengthen its ministries? (I will.)”
Our primary allegiance isn’t to the UMC; it is to the universal church of Jesus Christ… through the UMC, we have the opportunity to do ministry for the Kingdom of God.
“As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness? (I will.)”
Please notice that there is NOT an “or” in between “prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness”. As a member of the UMC at Temple or anywhere else (any other church for that matter) these are the things God has called you to do… as a Christian and as a member of a church. It’s not a smorgasbord; you don’t get to pick and choose what you shall do… in fact you took vows that said you would do them… all.
Do you pray? Are you faithfully praying for the Kingdom of God & your church?
Do you attend? I understand if you have health issues and you just don’t get around anymore. (You get a pass) But don’t tell me, “I can worship anywhere. Even in my boat, Pastor Kevin”. While that is a true statement, since you should worship anywhere and everywhere; however, I have never seen anyone in their boat with a rod and reel in one hand and a Bible in the other. Hebrews 10.25 (NIRV) And let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us encourage one another with words of hope. Let us do this even more as you see Christ’s return approaching. If you don’t attend, you aren’t a member… and a couple of times a year doesn’t count.
What about your gifts? Yes, the talent God blessed you with. Do you use your talent(s) for the good of the church & Kingdom? God has given to you, and you are, in turn, supposed to give. Yes, monetarily too. God gives you resources… do you use them for the Kingdom and the church? Don’t tell me you tithe to other organizations, etc. If you think that is giving to God you need to read Malachi 3.8. “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
If you are not giving of yourself & your resources to the Kingdom and to the church, you are robbing from God.
Are you serving? You promised your service. What are you DOING for the church and the Kingdom? The only way the church can properly function is if everyone does their part— are you doing your part?
What about your witness? God calls us, as Christians, to go (Get Out) into all the world and make disciples for Jesus Christ. It’s your job as a Christian. Jesus “commissioned” you to do this. How’s that working?
So take a hard look at your life. I started to say your Christian life, but that implies you have more than one life… and we know as Christians we are to be totally devoted to our One True God. We should be Christians 24 hours a day – 7 days per week – 365 days per year…
God bless you in your efforts for the Kingdom,
PK & Marlene