John Wesley’s Fear has come True

I clipped this news article from the internet. While I know the internet is a place where you need to be discerning about what is true and false, this article and the interview it presents did actually happen.

Leaders from the United Methodist Church have announced a tentative plan to split the church over differences on whether or not Methodists should be Christian or some sort of social group with a vague deist motif that makes up morality based on whatever it feels like.

“There was just no way to reconcile differences,” said Rev. Lloyd Patrick, one of those dismayed by the recent push by traditionalists to follow the Bible instead of each person’s own heart. “A lot of people still want to follow Jesus — a person from 2000 years ago who made no statements about pronouns and thus has no relevance today — which is just silly since we all know so much more now and have a better grasp on morality than a bunch of ancient people.”

Rev. Patrick went on to describe how Christian beliefs put an unnecessary burden on people, as they can lead to ridicule or even being canceled. “I guess they don’t have to worry about that in primitive places overseas,” Rev. Patrick said, “but we can’t be expected to deal with that in the U.S.”

While most of the U.S. Methodist churches are moving in a more modern direction, away from outdated beliefs like Christianity (comment: chronological snobbery), it’s mainly in less developed nations ( in places like Africa that are still hung up on things like the Bible, necessitating the split. We got no statements from anyone there, though, as it didn’t seem worth listening to such unenlightened views.

I chose to join the Methodist church seven years ago after a struggle with Baptist polity that left me disillusioned and close to burn out. I stayed with the United Methodist for seven years and then, after being basically dumped by the conference in which my membership resides. I joined the Methodist church thinking that the Methodist church would still be seeking the things John Wesley sought. I was wrong.

Still, I continue to attend a Methodist church due to my wife being on staff and due to the fact that the church she is on staff with is a very orthodox leaning church.

I do not know Rev. Patrick. He is not a leader I would follow. His statement is full of logical fallacies and seems to be derogatory toward the Methodist church in Africa. I feel sad for such people who seem not to have an actual relationship with Jesus. I feel sad for people who have abandoned Christianity for modernism. However, the Lord told us this would happen.  

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. (2 Tim. 4:3-4 NRS)

The myth that morality is defined by culture and that there are no moral absolutes has always been a stumbling block to humanity. We, since the fall, have a tendency to try and define what is moral by our own preferences. Please pray for those who have abandoned faith for a pseudo-relevance that will only lead to consequences that will not building the church up but drag it down.

Lectionary Sermon (Gospel) for October 24, 2021

Mark 10:46-52 If Asked, “What would you want?”

Timaeus, a name which means to honor. Was blind. He was not always blind but sometime in his life he could see.

Back to his name for a moment.  The name comes from the Greek noun τιμη (ti-may) describes something that is dear, valuable or honorable. It stems from the verb τιω (tea-o), to honor, revere, prize highly or simply: to value or price. Both this verb and its noun speak of an intimate knowledge of the thing assessed, and an intimate knowledge of the item’s usefulness relative to the economy at large. What a difficult name for a blind beggar to carry. What honor was there in begging? What honor was there in being blind?

Forgive me for bringing myself into the story, but I, myself, have learned something of blindness. I lost my left eye (my dominate one). When I close my eyes, my mind tries to get the left eye that is not there to be dominate. This I am embraced by total darkness. The thought of losing sight in my other eye can create fears that I frequently face (with God’s help and grace).

I see people begging on the streets of the town that I live. They are not blind. I cannot image how a blind person could survive in such a situation. At least in the culture of Jesus day, giving help to a begging person was an honorable thing to do. There was not thought of them being welfare kings or people who would just misuse whatever was given to them. Before we judge people, which we should never do, we should get to know them and their story.

I have no trouble with this story. I know I have no trouble thinking that this guy, Timaeus, a name which means to honor, is in a deeply destitute and downtrodden state of mind. This is his life, depend on others. He must ask others for handouts. He likely depends on others to help him find food and shelter. He has no hope of his life improving. But then something happened.

In the place where Timaeus, a name which means to honor, was sitting, begging, a commotion began. In the story of Jesus given to us by Luke and the Holy Spirit we are told that Timaeus asked what was going on. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth, the teacher and healer was near. When Timaeus hears this, he begins to yell for Jesus. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk. 10:47 NRS)

Timaeus, whose name means to honor, yelling seems to embarrass or irritate many of the people in the crowd. Either that, or they are troubled by his disparate state and do not like being reminded or their own vulnerabilities,   They tell him to be quiet. This causes him to yell even more. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mk. 10:47 NRS)

Why did the people try to silence Timaeus? We are not told. What is apparent is that either the people did not thing Jesus could do anything to help Timaeus and his yelling was bothering them or the people did care about Timaeus at all and just wished he would go away and not interrupt their opportunity to see the latest religious celebrity.

Marginal people, people like Timaeus, like the beggars we see on street corners, the homeless we see wandering our streets, the mentally ill, the addicts and all the other people who spent every day depending on the goodness of others often find that goodness lacking. Too often we try to silence those individuals with ordinances, loitering laws, or any other way we can keep them out of sight and out of mind. We try to make them invisible.

They are not invisible to Jesus. Jesus hears Timaeus’s cry. He calls for Timaeus to come to him. The crowd, instead of trying to silence him, “they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” (Mk. 10:49 NRS)

Interesting, first they try to keep him quiet him and now they are trying to encourage him. The ethics of crowds is as fickle as any ethics can be.

So Timaeus gets up quickly (throws off his cloak) and comes to Jesus. Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Jesus has compassion on the man. First, Jesus hears his cry for help. Jesus is paying attention to the people around him. Jesus was always look for those who he came to serve. This man was lost in darkness. Jesus is going to give him sight. `

Also not, Jesus understood empathetically.

The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. (Ps. 146:8 NRS) Psalm 146 is a Psalm of compassion for those with little hope. Jesus very word bring up the deepest desire of this man’s heart. He does not ask for money but mercy. He knows it would take a miracle for him to see. It took a great amount of faith in the one who asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Timaeus, whose name means to honor, tells Jesus he wants to see again. And then, he does. And Jesus tells him something very important that penetrated much deep than the vision which had been restored. Jesus said his faith is what healed him.

Now, I need to be very careful as one called to proclaim God’s word. Do not try and compare your faith to this man’s. Don’t let what his faith does for him be your standard or goal. Faith is very personal. Faith is tied deeply to our most trusted hopes. Our faith is a gift to us. It is a relationship between us and our God.

This man, Timaeus, whose name means “to honor,” could not go to work, perhaps pursue an education. He could start a family. He could travel and take in all the things he had missed in his blindness.

This is not what he does. He becomes a follower of Jesus. He understands what his faith had done for him and now he wants more than just to see, he wants to see Jesus.

William Berry in his book, Finding God in All Things, brings up how easy it is for us to doubt in this age. We can doubt ourselves, doubt our purpose all because of the pressures of this world. Something similar can happen in the relationship with God. People begin to wonder whether it is all a psychological trick they have played on themselves.[1]

I don’t think this man ever doubted Jesus.

Doubts are easy these days. Hope is hard. The love of many is growing cold. Spiritual blindness covers our world. I believe we too should let our Lord know our desire is to see, to see by the power of faith. The choice is ours.

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[1] Barry, William A.. Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (p. 45). Ave Maria Press – A. Kindle Edition