· Ministry to Men, Leadership Development, Church Renewal, Ministry with the Poor

Just become it, so you can do it

By Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.

I stumbled upon the following 1891 quote from Henry Drummond in The Programme of Christianity.


The tendency of the religions of all time has been to care
more for religion than for humanity; Christ cared more for
humanity than for religion--rather, His care for humanity was
the chief expression of His religion.

He was not indifferent to observances,

but the practices of the people bulked in His
thoughts before the practices of the Church. It has been
pointed out as a blemish on the immortal allegory of Bunyan
that the Pilgrim never did anything––anything but save his
 soul. The remark is scarcely fair, for the allegory is
 designedly the story of a soul in a single relation; and,
 besides, he did do a little. But, the warning may well be
weighed. The Pilgrim's one thought, his work by day, his dream
 by night, was escape. He took little part in the world through
 which he passed. He was a Pilgrim travelling through it; his
 business was to get through safe.

Whatever this is, it is not Christianity.

Drummond challenges us to examine our brand of Christianity to see if we are more fixated on the trappings of the Church than on actually being involved with people.

If we are to be judged by our statements and debates we receive high marks. However, if God judges us on our actions and our ability to inspire others to join us in transforming people, we are truly struggling.

We have tried in vain to answer the deep hurt, yearnings and longings in humanity with statements, programs and position papers when all people really want from us are deep relationships.

As Pilgrim did, we often seek to escape relationships with our neighbors; we even avoid the strangers down the street and sometimes we refuse to have meaningful relationships with the people for whom we advocate. We may even avoid deep relationships with those who sit on pews next to us.

If there is a group that needs relationships, it’s men.

The world cannot be transformed unless that effort is led by transformed people.

So here it is: Jesus said to those first four he called, “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.”

Jesus can transform you from a person who is preoccupied with your own survival to a person who is willing to be engaged in the lives of others.

I challenge you to see opportunities right around you. Engage yourself in a small accountability group where you will stop trying to escape responsibility for your transformation, and you can help others through a transformative partnership.

Open your eyes to people and places that need you and the transformative power you are experiencing in Christ.

Get busy becoming a Christian.

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr., president

General Commission on United Methodist Men



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