In him it is always ‘Yes’
For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God.’ 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NRSV)
Many people romanticise the early church, often speaking about it as if there were no troubles, a perfect group of people who were successful in proclaiming the gospel. But the letters to the Corinthian community hints otherwise.
Paul had clearly upset the Corinthian community; it seems he didn’t turn up when he promised to. In these few verses Paul tries to make up for the mixed messages that he had sent them, affirming that in Christ yes is yes and all God’s promises remain, even if he hasn’t necessarily got it right.
Paul was the Corinthian community’s founder, and to them he was their guide in faith. But they were obviously hurt by Paul’s mixed messages, and through these verses in his letter Paul attempted to remind them that the Spirit is with them; God’s promises remain and the gospel true, irrespective of his actions.
In Methodism we have been making steady progress in the human sexuality debate and in 2006 we opened discussions about whether we wanted to revisit the official position on homosexuality and same-sex relationships. That Conference affirmed that Methodist members and ministers could be in civil partnerships – providing they still followed the 1993 Resolutions on Human Sexuality – back to the old being and doing debate!
We’ve widely consulted about the 1993 Resolutions and turns out we have no where to move to. Half want the resolutions to remain, the other half want change, but they desire to move in two different directions (roughly 25% would like blessings for Civil Partnerships and 25% want to remove the acceptance of homosexuals).
It looks as though, for the time being, we’ll remain in what I see as a mixed message position. A position that feels as though we’re partly accepted, but not fully, and it’s here that I feel we’re very similar to the Corinthian community: hurt by the mixed messages, and not fully sure what to think. Yet, Paul’s words bring us encouragement as they would have done for the Corinthians: ‘…but in him [Jesus Christ] it is always “Yes.” For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.”’ While churches continue to send us mixed messages, we can be sure that God’s promise of loving salvation remains.
Finally, although we often receive mixed messages, there are times when a clear statement is made and the light of hope shines towards us. Such a time came for me when I was in New York recently and decided to find out a United Methodist Church to visit.
I arrived at the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew to be met by a sign that read: ‘We are a congregation committed to justice and reconciliation for all persons regardless of age, race, economic or marital status, gender or sexual orientation.’ If only more churches were brave enough to be bold about their support for all in Christ who suffer due to marginalisation and oppression!
National Coordinator for Outcome