A welcoming church

Today I saw a picture of George W Bush hugging Hillary Clinton that was supposedly taken at Nancy Reagan’s funeral.  Both Bush and Clinton are known to be United Methodist.  Some people are pointing out the fact that the UMC is big enough and open enough that there is room for all kinds of people, even people who disagree.  And that’s a point that the UMC rightfully proclaims.  Just as Christianity is open to everyone in the world, whether Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or atheist, everyone is also welcome in the UMC.

If a Muslim converts to Christianity, they disavow Allah.  If a Mormon becomes a Christian, they accept the basis of Christian doctrine that Jesus is God and they disavow the Mormon belief that God was once a very good human, so good that He became a god.  People are welcome to go to any church and still believe that Allah is God or that they themselves will one day become gods, but according to the New Testament, they are wrong about those things.  Whether they are forgiven of their sins is between them and Jesus, but the church does not believe the Bible teaches that we will one day be gods ourselves or that Muhammad was a prophet.  Everyone is welcome in the church, but the church does not (and must not) embrace everyone’s beliefs when they go against Biblical teaching.

The United Methodist Church, like Christianity, welcomes all.  Hillary Clinton and George Bush are both welcome.  I am welcome and you are welcome.  But just because the UMC embraces and welcomes all people, it does not mean that we can embrace everyone’s sins.  What’s so awesome about Jesus and following Him is that everyone is welcome….. welcome to come and welcome to change.  We are welcome to see God change our own wants and desires to conform to His Word.  We are welcome to pick up our cross and follow Him.  Or we are welcome to walk away from His teaching.  Too many people today are under the impression that we are welcome to change or disregard God’s Word to conform to our own wants and desires.

Christianity was never about accommodating people and our human desires, but about changing them.  And what should worry us is that seems to be changing.

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