A return to basics

3/17/2009

By Jorge Navarrete
Conference Staff

Many of us have heard lately a sort of mantra that says that things are so out of kilter that we must return to the “basics,” a sentiment with which I agree completely. In the case of our church it would be a return to the basics of our Christian doctrine and our Wesleyan heritage, which together form the basis of our faith as Christians and our identity as Methodists.

It appears to me that we need to go back and review, think and then practice the beliefs of what being a Christian is, which is to say, we need to translate these internal head and heart matters into external actions in order for our faith and identity to come alive and become real to us and to the world. And, while we all need to practice our beliefs it is essential for us as leaders to model what we preach.

As Christians we are the spiritual descendents of Abraham and the nation of Israel in that we are a called out people whose mission is to be a blessing to the nations (Gen. 18:18-19). Micah in 6:8 reminds us of the basics “… To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (emphasis added)

How are we acting out this truth?

How are we putting into daily practice our Lord’s greatest command to love Him above all things and our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39)? Often we stray from the basics and get lost in worldly pursuits that in the end distract us from our Christian faith and practice. We become habitual or even compulsive collectors of money, pleasure, attention and prestige failing to develop into practicing Christians by exercising our common mission to love God and our neighbors by making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In the process of pursuing other things we fail in our mission and miss out on the privilege to “be a blessing to the nations.”

A director of a local Christian social services organization issued a call to Christian action by interpreting what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 in this way: “Ministry work, for Christians, should not be done out of a sense of shocked moral obligation or civic shame, but rather as ministering to our Lord Himself.”

Yes, all of us have strayed from the basics, but not far enough that we cannot start today claiming the ministry of our baptism and heritage by giving a witness of our faith or visiting Jesus in prison or providing food for Him and clothing Him.

“Brothers and sisters, I don't consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. I push hard toward what is ahead of me.  I move on toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.”Philippians 3:13-14.

Navarrete serves in Connectional Ministries for the Mississippi Conference working in the missions area.