Bishop Reuben P. Job's best-selling little book Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living outlines John Wesley's practices of faithful Christian living. Job calls these three simple rules a radical change in direction. Those rules are:
- Do no harm.
- Do good.
- Stay in love with God.
We know from recent experiences that Wall Street will fail. Washington will fail. Politicians' promises will fail. Even new conference structures may fail. Most things in life, in one way or another, will fail. Why? I believe these failures may occur because the three simple rules are NOT being followed. Greed, corruption and power are the world's rules, and these actions will eventually topple any system. So what do we do? What do we expect?
As the church, the new United Methodist Indiana Annual Conference, we can never let our possibility for failure prevent us from moving forward in faith that God may be glorified in all we do. Yes, we will fail, but when we fail we need to ask God's forgiveness and begin anew - over and over and over.
The first Saturday of this month, the lay and clergy leaders of Indiana took a bold move to put into motion a new way of doing church with a restructure of the Indiana Area and the establishment of the new Indiana Conference. Much work went into that historic session. Much work awaits, as plans on paper supported by prayer become plans in the lives of people in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world through our commitment to do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.
We cannot move forward to meet our goals by merely being nice people. Being nice isn't good enough for God. If we are going to be the people that God has imagined, we need to walk in new ways by faith, knowing God goes before us (read I Peter 4:7-11). We need to live beyond niceness. We need to be prophetic and strong advocates of the poor and outcast. We need to be compassionate and work diligently for the equal distribution of food, the fair distribution of wealth and to lend our gifts and talents to those who fall on bad times, whether caused by natural or human disasters.
As faithful United Methodist congregations, we must grow in relationships to all people through worship, study of Scripture, prayer, stewardship and witness. That's a tall order for people who for practical purposes just want to be nice. However, if the reign of God is to be realized, being nice isn't good enough.
Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Sounds simple, but we cannot accomplish such practices on our own. We need the strength and compassion of Christian community through congregations, districts and our new emerging conference.
Welcome to a new age and chapter of United Methodism in Indiana, not for our own gain, but for the gain of God through Jesus Christ.
- Daniel R. Gangler