NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson says United Methodist men need to build strong infrastructures to stand against destructive inner forces.
Swanson, the president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, addressed the opening session of the Feb. 27-March 2 meeting of the National Association of Conference Presidents and Conference Prayer Advocates.
“The Great Wall of China was designed to keep out enemies,” said the bishop. However, soon after the wall was completed nomadic tribes entered the country without breaking or breaching the wall. “They bribed the gate keepers.”
“No matter how strong we build a fortress outside ourselves, if we don’t do anything about the enemies within we do nothing,” said Swanson.
The bishop said a man needs three things for a strong infrastructure:
1. Become a man of faith.
“You must believe you are made in the image and likeness of God,” said the bishop. He noted that growing up as a black in the segregated South it was difficult to have a positive self-image. But a compliment on the quality of his voice helped him realize “God doesn’t “create any junk.”
2. Possess fidelity of heart.
“Be faithful in what God has asked you to do and do things that are above and beyond the call of duty,” said the bishop. “Don’t fail to pick up a gum wrapper just because you aren’t the janitor. Don’t fail to pass out church bulletins just because you aren’t the usher. Be faithful to your commitment to Christ even when it calls for personal sacrifice.”
3. Have unshakeable love
The bishop noted the love shared between conference presidents and prayer advocates gathering at the General Board of Discipleship building. “Men of all jurisdictions are working together to make Christ a reality for all men no matter where they come from,” said Swanson. “They are doing so even in the midst of deep disagreements.”