“Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me” – fall afresh on us – was the recurring cry of this Annual Conference. Oh, that it indeed might happen and happen again and again. This is our prayer as we move forward into the remainder of 2014.
For what do I give thanks as I think about this year’s Conference? I think of our Bishop Young Jin Cho. I give thanks for his leadership and his spirit of encouragement and exhortation. I give thanks for our Bible study and worship and the speakers who provoked us to love and good works as they shared. I give thanks the Virginia Annual Conference is #1 in giving support to missions! I give thanks for the testimonials we witnessed of churches growing and being revitalized. I give thanks for the four and a half tons of food that was shared through Cans 4 Conference, for the $145,000 raised towards the Initiatives of Hope, for the exhortation to partner in the fight to Imagine No Malaria, and for the 41,218 Kits they were brought to Annual Conference. Most of all, I give thanks for the brothers and sisters in Christ with which I could see and speak as we gathered together in Hampton.
What concerns me as we move forward in fidelity to Jesus Christ? I am concerned we could move away from the call to prayer and renewal given by our Bishop as we spend time talking about issues of sexuality. I am concerned the big picture of God’s redemption in Jesus could be overshadowed by our snapshot on sexuality. Let me be nostalgic for a moment. I long for the day (like when I was converted) when we call the lost to be saved and sinners to become saints. For those struggling to obey the commands of Christ, I am concerned we will call them to be receptive to the spirit of the age rather than receive the Spirit of Holiness that provides greater inward pressure for wholeness to our soul than any other resolving measure we take for the appropriate use of our passions.
I am concerned about us acting on the basis of stereotype and narrowly focused social concerns that help one while hurting another. I am concerned we push for the enactment of laws to substitute for the grace and the liberty of the Spirit. We approved a resolution for a “living wage” while voting down the opportunity to apply the standard to ourselves first. The maker of the motion insisted we needed to take this action to reflect the Jesus he knew. But, the Jesus I know doesn’t force everyone into the same mold but does call the 2/3 of business owners cited by the maker of the resolution who are in favor of raising the minimum wage to act in good faith on what they believe. We have stereotyped business owners as all rich and self-serving when that is just not the case.
Mostly, I pray for grace and liberty to abound and that each of us and all of us can abide in a place of repentance and alignment with the Truth. I give thanks knowing God will be at work in Jesus Christ through the indwelling Spirit to bring us there!