We all do honour to what we believe when we give witness to those beliefs in civil discourse. I could be right or wrong. You could be right or wrong. But the correctness or incorrectness of ideas and beliefs does not change how we should treat one another — ever.
It is difficult being church together. The History of Christianity is filled with a progression of conflicts over right teaching, the authority of the church and its leaders, and the proper shape and character of a Christian life. These things are important. Sadly, though, these conflicts often distract from the example of Jesus and his life and ministry in this world. Instead of an athletic contest to see who can best exemplify God’s love as demonstrated by Christ, Christians waste large amounts of energy on arguing with one another. It is discouraging to those within the faith and its various traditions. It is wholly off-putting to those ‘outside’ the church who are trying to decide whether they see anything of value in Christianity.
What keeps me going as a Methodist Christian is the question I ask myself with regularity. It is a question, in fact, that I ask my students when I teach — Do God and the world still need Methodists?