One of the most potent scripture references I have ever encountered, or thought worthy of designation as a “life verse” would have to be this portion of Luke 8:19-21:
Luke 8:21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.
Coming from a background that was not strong in family values or supports it soon became clear to me that the church was as dysfunctional as the family I was accustom too. But, there was no easy way to make an equal substitution for the lacking family members and the plethora of members at the United Methodist Church. As in most families, there were some you cherished being with and those you would rather not.
Let me clarify one thing. It is certain that I fell into the “rather not” category for some of those in the Methodist Church too. But, the point I am trying to make is refreshing. I was given fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters exponentially. I had never knew the safety and security that was available in the knowledge that others had your well-being, future, and best interest as a priority on their list as well. It is these types of brethren the Lord Jesus distinguishes when he makes the statement “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Those who counted Christ as worthy of obedience also found a faithful devotion to the well-being of others in need. They had simply come bearing the word of God, a message from on high, to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
It was not only the Methodist Church that provided more relatives than I could stand to bear. Brothers and sisters from across denominational divides, house churchgoers, baby baptizers, and even those who refuse to step foot into a steeple-house ever again all entered into my life bearing words of encouragement, knowledge, and sustenance during a tumultuous growth phase. They were messengers from on high.
After feeling a ‘calling’ to go into “the ministry”, I began exploring options to enter the pastorate. I was intent on completing my undergraduate and attending a local seminary. I even audited classes to begin the admissions phase of the process. Everything seemed to be on the right path and I was officially on the tract to bless others through God’s calling on “my life.” But the messengers he sent would not stop, and their voices could not be squelched.
I halted my journey toward a degree in theology dead in its tracks. I refrained from becoming a part of a process that had eventually been the demise of my beloved Methodist upbringing. I saw the writing on the wall and it was in bold black lettering, “come out from among them.” It was then that I realized my peers, the ones I squabbled with, the ones I promoted traditional church polity, traditional soteriology, and all the fine facets of churchianity too had been right all along. They had all proclaimed with one voice that it was all much more simpler than the American Institution known as “Church” had become.
In the end, the decision to leave the church structures I had become so accustomed too was difficult. My heart was rent. I became depressed, and I was sorry to have to leave some of the relationships that had been formed. Ultimately, I would see them all again, but not as much. They had become my mothers, my brothers, and my sisters. But they had chosen to remain within the confines of the institution. It was then that I turned to my brethren who had survived the experience and begun seeking Jesus outside of the steeple, outside the pew, and began their journey into the wilderness.
This post is part three in a series:
- Coming up Methodist: God’s wonderful plan for my life
- Coming up Methodist: Fire in the bones
- Coming up Methodist: Messengers from on high