Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors . . . The People Of The United Methodist Church.
As part of the marketing rollout, the church produced a series of television commercials like this one that ran in selected markets:
As you might expect, the design of the project was to shape the public’s perception of United Methodism as a community full of tolerant, wise, and friendly folk.
It was, and is, a subtle approach to sharing the gospel.
And at some level, I’m all in favor of subtlety over force when it comes to gospel presentation.
Yet during this week of all weeks, I’ve been thinking about that slogan: Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. Is it accurate to who we are or, more importantly, who we should be as a people and as a denomination?
Open Hearts: Terrific. When we get it right at Good Shepherd (which is some of the time but certainly not all of the time), our hearts are open to the brokenness of people’s lives, and we’re eager to help apply the healing balm of the Gospel to those places.
Open Doors: Absolutely. Again, we’re hoping that worship at GSUMC looks like worship in heaven, with every tribe, tongue, and nation gathered together worshipping the Lord of life. And the more we pray for it to happen that way, the more it does.
Two out of three. Not bad.
Open Minds: Since the slogan doesn’t define each of its pieces (nor should it; it’s a slogan!), I have taken this to one mean that in the UMC, truth is malleable. Flexible. Changeable. That we’re not above re-thinking much that is at the heart of Christian teaching. Perhaps I am reading more into “Open Minds” than I should . . . but given the theological perspective that permeates most of our denomination’s hierarchy, I don’t think so.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that when it comes to the core of Christian doctrine what the church — and the world surrounding it — needs is not open minds. And not closed minds either.
What is needed, I suggest, is settled minds.
That on this holiest of weeks, we in the church have investigated the claims of the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ and have found them inescapably true and irresistibly life changing.
On those matters, our minds are not open anymore. They are settled. Our brothers and sisters in India are dying for the sake of these claims; how can we possibly trivialize them?
How does the Creed say it?
I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord. My mind is settled on that.
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. My mind is settled on that.
Born of the Virgin Mary. Settled.
Suffered under Pontius Pilate. Settled.
Was crucified, dead, and buried. Settled.
The third day he rose from the dead. Settled! Celebrating and settled!
He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Settled.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. Settled.
As I scan the beauty and the power of the creed, I realize that the only reason we can open wide the doors and hearts of the church in the first place is because these events and these truths and this gospel are settled.