Our nation and faith are worth it: Column
Being a part of the Jackson County Ministerial Association (JCMA) connects me with pastors and churches in Jackson County that I normally would not have a chance to meet or share with in bringing the blessings of Christ’s kingdom into our lives and world. I gain a greater sense of the vastness and goodness of God as I see God at work in the lives of fellow Christians and churches in our great county. It is truly a blessing to pray for and support one another in making disciples, ministering to those in need and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with more people than we could ever do on our own. We exalt Christ and accomplish far more together than apart!
The same is true when we work together in our communities. When I engage in the life of the people and events of Ripley, I am blessed personally by knowing talented and committed people who serve and love their community ahead of themselves. I get a greater sense that I am connected to a city, a county, a state and a nation that are only as strong and good as the citizens who uphold them, pray for them, serve them and share both life and things in common. Such community connections make us whole as human beings and great as a nation. Only when we connect and serve one another above self can we truly be “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We are enriched and our communities are better off when we work together and pursue the common good ahead of our own agendas.
Yes, God pours out blessings when God sees the unity of Christians, loving, serving and witnessing to anyone who has lost his or her way in life. When the needy and hurting are cared for, the whole community benefits. It’s that kind of selfless service that gave birth to our nation and the freedoms we celebrated recently on Independence Day.
The story about a horse pulling contest illustrates well the exceeding results produced when we work in tandem. During a great horse pulling contest in Canada, one horse was able to pull 9,000 pounds. Another horse pulled 8,000 pounds. Together you would think they could pull 17,000 pounds, but in reality, these two horses could pull a full 30,000 pounds together, far greater than the total of what they could pull individually. The same is true when God’s people work together in the unity of the Holy Spirit. God brings about a great synergy of blessings, far greater than the total of what each congregation can produce on their own.
Jackson County, West Virginia and the United States will be stronger and better when God’s people put others ahead of ourselves, just as our foremothers and fathers did in giving birth to this nation. When God and his kingdom are first, loving our neighbors, working together and spreading God’s blessings throughout our land are the result. God has endowed us with freedom and rights not just for our benefit but also to bring in God’s reign of justice and peace for all people, even to the ends of the earth.
When the world sees us working in unity to live and love like Jesus, then they will come to believe and follow him too. As Jesus prayed in John 17:20-23, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Rev. Dr. W. Ford Price is pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church and vice president of JCMA.