Honor for the name by keeping it simple and loving like Jesus


    Despite my allergies, I love this time of year. One of the reasons is that my wife and I are zealous Atlanta Braves fans. Diane especially appreciated Bobby Cox, the former manager of the Braves. One year she even asked for his jersey for her birthday gift! One thing we both admired about Bobby was that he had just three simple rules for his players and everyone else in the organization. If you abided by them, you would do fine as an Atlanta Brave. The rules were:
1. Be on time.
2. Play hard.
3. Honor the team name – both on and off the field.
The rules were simple and clear, and when they were followed they helped the team put together a record which may not be equaled.
    We United Methodists have been given three simple rules by our founder, John Wesley. They are in our Book of Discipline. It is expected of all who continue therein that they shall continue to evidence their desire of salvation, First: By doing no harm … Second: By doing good … And third: By attending upon all the ordinances of God (in order to stay in love with God, as Bishop Job has explained). Each of these rules is followed by a more detailed description in the Discipline, but they’re pretty simple. If we Methodists were more zealous about putting these into practice today we might again have a record which would not soon be equaled. Wesley said the true mark of a Methodist was that they would Love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves. Of course, this wasn’t original to Wesley.
     Jesus, when asked by a teacher of the law which is the greatest rule or commandment said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30, 31). All the Commandments are covered in these two.
    It is clear what our rules or marching orders are. At the last supper Jesus told his disciples, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love …” (John 13:35). Yes, I know the quote says “… one another,” however, Jesus also says love God, love our neighbor, love the stranger and even love our enemy.
   The world will know we are Christians by our LOVE.
    I don’t know about you, but I find that simple and clear – and very hard. In fact, it is impossible. I can’t do it apart from relying on the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine, though, what is would be like if all we United Methodist Disciples, with God’s help, loved like Jesus? What would happen if the world saw such a difference in us by the way we love everyone? Can you imagine what a difference we would make in our families, neighborhoods, offices, schools and this state is we would follow Jesus’s simple rule and honored his name by loving like him? Wow!
     Dear Lord, let it be so and let it begin with me.
Dr. Jim Lowry is superintendent of the Atlanta Marietta District. Email him at jim.lowry@ngumc.net.