Mandatory Training on Racism Scheduled --- Headline on front page of the March 14, 2008 issue of InterLink, newspaper of the W. PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
It seems all systems are go as another "mandatory" training session for clergy of the W. PA Annual Conference on the explosive issue of racism will happen at four designated locations this spring. Bishop Bickerton has sent a letter detailing this matter and stressed also the need for church leaders among the laity to attend as well.
The events are being funded through the "Believe Again" program which was launched some time back. I still have not gotten an answer to an issue I raised about this at the begining -- just what is it I am to believe anyhow? A link at the bottom of this discussion will provide more details about that.
Apparently to get us all set straight on this racism thing a company known as Rhymes Consulting which is based in Pittsburgh will provide leadership for the sessions. Now the question is this -- is this a Christian organization and are the people leading this all dedicated Christians deeply involved in their respective churches?
But no matter -- at the heart of the Christian faith is something called transformation of a person in the inner depths of that person's being upon the condition of repenting from all known sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord -- quite literally, a miracle of change takes place!
In order for this miracle to take place the 4 demands Jesus placed upon us humans must happen -- no options here -- either we meet those conditions or we don't!
- Jesus said we must be born again - John 3:3
- Jesus said we must repent - Luke 13:3
- Jesus said we must be converted and become as a little child - Matthew 18:3
- Jesus said we must eat His flesh and drink of His blood -- not literally, of course, as He explains on the occasion of issuing this demand - John 6:53-66
But that is where the problem is -- it is possible to hang the label, "Christian," around your neck -- circulate in and around the church and not really know what it is to be born again as well as meeting those other demands as set forth by Jesus! I recall hearing a preacher many years ago expressing frustration about the subject of being "born again" -- he admitted he knew nothing about it!
But having the experience will change one's perspective when it comes to racial issues plus a lot of other stuff which relates one way or another to this thing called sin. Paul expressed it well in statements made in Galatians 3:28 -- and how about those statements in Colossians 3:4-14 -- you know, where he says racial identification is obliterated and not recognized in Christ Jesus -- sure shoots this diversity thing (of which too many United Methodists are so proud) all to pieces, does it not?
Is this racism thing the only thing NOT to go when Paul was inspired to write this:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. --- 2 Corinthians 5:17
Is there anyone brazen enough in the W. PA Annual Conference or anywhere else for that matter who will say to Paul -- "Yes, some things may be a bit different, but racism still remains -- it's an old thing and it will stay, no matter what -- even the grace of God is not sufficient to deal with that one -- at least not until we call in a consulting firm!" Come to think of it, there probably are some who would do it!
Just what is meant when it says that a person becomes a new creation in Jesus Christ? What are the "old things" which pass away? What are the things which become "new?"
More to come in a day or two about this racism matter -- as experienced by a fellow who at one point didn't really care if there was a God or not!
By the way, that link on the matter of "Believe Again!" as mentioned earlier -- it's at Believe Again! OK! But What Is It That I Am to Believe? A link at the bottom of that area will bring you back to this place.
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
--- John 15:5-12