Deep within the Doctrinal Standards and Theological Task section of our United Methodist Book of Discipline are the rules John Wesley offered to the small groups of Methodists meeting as classes. It was toward the end of 1739 when one of the groups reportedly came to Mr. Wesley seeking advice about how they might “flee from the wrath to come.” Thanks to the work of Bishop Rueben Job we know these as the Three Simple Rules: “Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.” Yet, today just as in the time of Mr. Wesley, these are not simple rules to follow. They require every bit of our energy and commitment to be authentic followers of Jesus.
These rules, the promises made on my behalf at my baptism, and the vows I spoke when I became a member of The United Methodist Church are ingrained in my heart and soul. They have become more and more important as I continue my spiritual walk home. Over the last few months, I’ve spent a good deal of time pondering how I am to live them out in this new reality in which we find ourselves.
Early this morning, that pondering led me to unfriend a childhood friend on Facebook. Truthfully, that’s a first for me. I’ve blocked people’s newsfeed temporarily. I often ignore people’s rants and overly political memes. If I’m really honest, I have to admit that I just skip over some Facebook friends’ post because I assume I know where they are headed. I do my very best not to join in politically-based discussions or respond to things I know or can research as being complete or partial truths. I pray that you can never say you see much that is negative in anyway on my Facebook or Twitter feed because I try really hard to not use social media that way.
But this morning, first thing, there was a post that shared a description of a person that was not acceptable by any means. It did harm just by being written and posted. It was a post in the same vein as many this individual had put up, posts that I would usually just say something under my breath about and go on. This one was different, though; one word stereotyping a person, causing hurt and fueling division that I couldn’t let go of as I started my day. So before I left home, I made a decision to unfriend the person and committed to doing the same to others, no matter how long we have known one another. I just don’t need this in my life. The world doesn’t need it.
Instead of responding in any other way, I “unfriended” and posted the words St. Catherine of Siena, a fourteenth century nun, is famous for saying: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
I hopped in my car and headed to work. I knew better than to listen to the news which is my normal habit at 8:00 AM so I switched to “The Message.” The first song I heard played in its entirety was new to me. Now, it’s in my “Forward to 2021” playlist. The words have echoed in my head and resonated in my heart all day.
Before starting to write, I searched for the story behind this song that was released just a few months ago. These words are from the American Songwriter website from July 9th.
“I wrote ‘Revolutionary’ in October of last year, not knowing anything about what 2020 held. I never could have imagined that this year would bring both a worldwide pandemic and the racial tipping point we’ve experienced because of the murder of George Floyd and so many others….All that I knew is that in the USA, 2020 was already set to be a divisive and polarizing year due to the upcoming presidential election. When I sat down with my friends James Tealy and Steve Fee to write these lyrics, we wondered if we could pen something that would inject a little bit of hope into the political situation we’d all be facing in the coming months….I didn’t intentionally write ‘Revolutionary’ for the pandemic and for this specific moment of racial tension and reconciliation, but I’m so glad this is the song I get to sing during this time….”Josh Wilson: Striving To Be “Revolutionary” in Kindness
I take hearing this song as soon as I got in the car this morning as the Holy Spirit’s leading. You can interpret that as you like. If what you want to say in response is in anyway negative, don’t comment about it on my Facebook page. If you disagree with anything I’ve said, don’t note on my Twitter feed or in the comment section of WordPress that I’m damned to a life in the flames. I’m going to hold on to St. Catherine’s message that if I live as I believe God is calling me, I’ll set the world on fire – and I might just be singing these words (since I can’t get them out of my head today).
Maybe you’re not like me
Maybe we don’t agree
Maybe that doesn’t mean
We gotta be enemies
Maybe we just get brave
Take a big leap of faith
Call a truce so me and you
Can find a better way…
Why does kindness seem revolutionary
When did we let hate get so ordinary
Let’s turn it around, flip the script
Judge slow, love quick
God help us get revolutionary…