I realize United Methodists might be feeling persecuted.  It’s not like the church went looking for controversy.  In recent weeks I also understand the host of a local radio show has probably annoyed some clergy and members.  He isn’t sure it was his main goal.

When I was a young boy there was a Council of Churches in the small town I called home.  There were seven denominations in the group and one was United Methodist.  It appeared as Christian as the other six, however.  The Wesleyan Methodist Church near the park dropped the name Methodist and simply became Wesleyan Church.  All of this seems like a very long time ago.

The modern UME Church is a relatively young institution at roughly 50-years-of-age.  And it’s being torn asunder by a rift with foreign members.

There are a great many people on the left who believe in their truth to the point where they would coerce us to participate.

In conservative Twin Falls, the local Methodists appear as colonizers from deep space, or at least in the eyes of many fellow Christians.

I wish it wasn’t the story.  There are people inside that grand old building by City Park who truly believe they’re doing the right thing.  They see some of the rest of us as mean-spirited, hateful and suborning the faith.  Or we perplex them.

Yet, I think we may only have some differences of definitions.  Several people have called my attention to a sign hanging from the UME building.  “Love everybody.  No exceptions,” it reads.  The difference is in confusing love with tolerance.  The latter isn’t a Christian virtue.  If you correct a child it’s not an act of hate.  And apparently we’ve no common agreement on what needs to be corrected.  I’m sure they would claim I need a course correction.  I’m blunt, opinionated and have a healthy fear of God.  Which means I’m trying very hard not to offend Him.  The only guidebook I’ve got is quite clear.  I also know I’m not always successful.

When I was a college freshman, a professor handed me a book.  “I’m O.K., You’re O.K.” was the title.  One thing it isn’t is divinely inspired.  It simply reminds us we shouldn’t club another person over the head for being different, which I’ve never done.  Sanctioning or participating in what they’re doing is another matter.  I needn’t do that.

There are a great many people on the left who believe in their truth to the point where they would coerce us to participate.  From what I’ve witnessed the Methodists aren’t like that and I appreciate they give a respectful distance when it comes to my opinions and what I believe.  I can’t begin to understand where they’re going but, for the moment, they’re a people who are mostly a benign presence.  It’s what happens when an institution simply fades away.

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