Dignity

The last several days have been all over the place!  I am preparing for my return to the Board of Ordained Ministry (BoOM) of the North Georgia Conference on Monday at 11:10 a.m. (please be in prayer for that interview).  I am also vigorously hard at work with several responsibilities here at St. James UMC (as are most pastors).  As a preface amid the distractions, God continues to pearce my soul with far deeper truth regarding human dignity and his love for humanity both collectively and individually.

In my preparations for the BoOM I have been reading a lot!  Specifically I’ve read lots of books on theology and doctrine.  Books like N.T. Wright’s “Evil and the Justice of God,” John Wesley’s “The Holy Spirit and Power,” and M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie.”  One of the most impacting reads yet (including these more mainstream reads) were three lesser read books in the Jesus genre, Brennan Manning’s “The Ragamuffin Gospel,” Shane Claiborne’s “The Irresistible Revolution,” and “Same Kind of Different As Me,” by Denver Moore and Ron Hall.  The message I keep hearing in my prayers is that EVERYONE DESERVES THE DIGNITY OF CHRIST.

There are so many ways to look at this statement.  One realizes that the dignity offered to Jesus was not always very worthy of who we Christians believe that he is.  If Jesus is Christ and Messiah and, therefore, son of God, son of man and…well…God in the flesh, then his journey in humanity was one that carried him from Transfiguration on the mountain-top down, down, down…all the way to Disfiguration in the Passion and his Crucifixion.  Dignity in Christ does not connote dignity in the world.  Secondly if we are to be “little Christs” (Christians) we are to likewise embrace dignity in the form of OUR crosses – a lifestyle that none of us initially see as right or appropriate.

Last night I re-read the “United Methodist Book of Discipline,” a book that adorns all pastors bookshelves prominently.  While preparing for my third and hopefully final meeting with the Theology and Doctrine sub-committee of the North Georgia Conference, I thought one more read of paragraph 101, “Doctrinal Standards & Our Theological Tasks,” boring as it may be, could be a valid preparatory read.  While reading I was dumbfounded by this statement (located on pg. 49 for all of you dorks):

“Support without accountability promotes moral weakness; accountability without support is a from of cruelty.”

How painfully true and yet, still, how painfully exposing of my ugliness!  I live in this tension daily.  We all do but I tell you all with great resolve that therein lies the extreme center of our faith.  This statement points me to the Cross.  This statement reminds me that I serve God above all else.  This statement convicts me that I fall short of God’s glory regularly.  

This morning I prayed that God give me more of his spirit – perhaps quite selfishly.  No more than 1 minute after speaking this prayer en route to St. James did I see three women with Bibles in hand on the sidewalk praying toward a building that I pass daily to get to St. James.  I slowed down just enough to see that THIS building is an actively used abortion clinic and abortions were most likely taking place as I passed by.  I don’t know what else to say here…

…except…Holy Spirit, use me to advocate for human dignity for all humanity (including the unborn, the prisoner, the murderer, the adulterer, the accused, the over-powered, the doubtful, the rejected, the least, the last and the lost).  May this be the Cross of my generation. 

“Support without accountability promotes moral weakness; accountability without support is a from of cruelty.”

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David A. Wofford

Serving Christ, proclaiming Resurrection, renouncing Evil.

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