This was the phrase I heard over and again as a young soldier in the military. We were to carry out our orders with highest honors, dedicating our service to God and country. Our duty was important but our conduct was always measured by honoring God and the US of A (as we were prone to say). We were challenged to be aware of our words and actions and the impact they have on others. Because we were diverse of color and origin, we were told we no longer bled red but rather green! The meaning of that phrase was clear: we must trust and depend on each other and there was no room for bigotry or racism. We were a band of brothers and sisters regardless of our ethnicity.
Of course, the assumption was that our superiors and government officials appointed over us conducted themselves in the same manner. I have been mostly silent but very appalled by rhetoric that leads to our division in humanity and Christianity. I wonder if David Gergen, former presidential advisor who served during the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton, is correct when he recently said, “Both parties are more concerned with saving their seat than saving their soul.” Perhaps his comment convicts me as well?
I have been writing in my blogs about honoring our mayors, governors, congress and our president for the past few months. It is difficult for me to say this, but there has been a change in the land, a change of shock and awe. I do not recall a more divisive and demeaning attitude by the leader of this great country than I’m hearing from the President of the United States of America. I want to support our country and our president, but how do we respond as Christians, as United Methodists to racism, sexism, and any other ‘ism’ that destroy unity?
“The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles. Early Methodists expressed their opposition to the slave trade, to smuggling, and to the cruel treatment of prisoners.” (2016 Book of Disciple, Social Principles, page 105) I would add to that list, the rights of women.
“Primary for us is the gospel understanding that all persons are important—because they are human beings created by God and loved through and by Jesus Christ and not because they have merited significance.” (BOD, para 161)
“We call the Church to challenge any hierarchy of cultures or identities. Through relationships within and among cultures, we are called to and have the responsibility for learning from each other, showing mutual respect for our differences and similarities as we experience ethnic diversity of perspectives and viewpoints.” (BOD, para 161a)