I never realized how many Methodists I followed on Twitter, until their General Conference began and #gc2012 started popping up all over my feed. It has been interesting to follow the heated politics that have surrounded an historic General Conference. From “Guaranteed Appointments” going away as part of a daily consent calendar to debates over human sexuality to a the absolute failure of a structure committee to do the work it was tasked to accomplish, it is as if every General Convention of The Episcopal Church from 2003 until this year’s has been combined into one giant ballroom in Tampa, FL, and it has me feeling a bit nervous about my 10 days in Indianapolis this summer.
What has struck me more than anything, however, is the harsh tones with which fellow Christians speak to and about one another. Episcopalians perfected “label and dismiss politics” in 2003, but the United Methodists are doing their best to outshine their big sister this year. People walking out during speeches, interrupting prayers, writing inflammatory tweets about their fellow Christians… all because of some disagreements over adiaphora – things indiffernt. As far as I can tell, no one is trying to change the Creeds or to remove Jesus from the equation.
As I’ve reflected on the Methodist General Conference and prepare for our General Convention by reading The Blue Book and Bishop (9th of Texas) Doyle’s paper entitled “Unity in Mission” all the while pondering the Lectionary for this Sunday, I was struck by the rather dangerous language of our Collect for the 5th Sunday of Easter that makes up the title for this post, “truly to know.” It comes from a larger sentence that reads:
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ask 100 people what it means to “truly know Almighty God,” and you will get 100 or more different answers, and the things that are adiaphora will consume most of your time and resources. But to truly know Him is everlasting life. To sit in God’s presence, to be in union with him , to know him (not just about him), to be invited into the life of the Three-in-One-Godhead is everlasting life. Notice that it doesn’t read, “whom truly to know is to have everlasting life.” No, instead, the authors wisely found it sufficient to say, “is.”
To truly know God is everlasting life. To do anything else (adiaphora) is death. We would do well to remember this every day of our lives.