Inside or outside?
By Gil Hanke
At a September 11 meeting of the Texas Conference delegation to General Conference and the South Central Jurisdictional Conferences, a friend of mine told me about book he attempted to read.
The meeting fell on the 14th anniversary of the horrific day when the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell.
The book he was talking about that day was written from two perspectives: one section was written by those who were inside the buildings and escaped, and the other written by people who were outside watching this happen.
In each case, people were doing what they do on a typical Tuesday morning. No one was doing anything unusual. They were simply going to work inside one of the towers or they were on their way to another destination.
The “inside” section was exciting to read because, against all odds, these persons survived. The stories were filled with bravery and selfless care.
But, my friend said he could not finish reading the “outside” section. Those people could only helplessly stand and watch; they were powerless to act.
As we look at this church and the world we love, all of us can see broken parts causing pain.
But, unlike 9/11, we have a choice of where we stand.
If we decide we are on the outside, we will believe we are helpless to do anything about the brokenness. We will have decided “this is not about me or my role in the church, it is their fault.” In many of the media reports, our church and world are always painted in pictures of hopeless despair, because that is what sells. And the more fear or anger they can generate the more money they raise…for themselves.
If we decide that we are inside the church and the world, we have the opportunity to be part of remarkable stories of redemption and instruments of God’s grace.
As members inside the church and the world, we become part of the stories that reveal God’s hand moving us “insiders” to do wonderful acts that bring hope, healing and wholeness.
Stories of God’s action are all around us. We may have seen redemptive acts during a Cub pack meeting, in a visit with a homeless person, in a greeting to a church visitor, in growing a garden to give food away, in a diverse community building a Habitat home for someone they don’t know, in a compelling story on UMC.org, and in taking a lower paying job to better serve the Kingdom. In all of these acts we find hope that is renewed in glorious worship.
So where do you choose to stand?
Join me in a “fast” this week: choosing not to partake in negative comments on any subject. Instead, let us “feast” on the good news of redemption and the transformations that occur all around us.
God IS good, all the time.
Are you taking the time today to see where your day intersects with God?
Gil Hanke, general secretary
General Commission on United Methodist Men