A Message from Bishop Gary Mueller

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the name of our risen Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!

We live in perilous times that are frightening to many of us. Terrorism, gun violence, extreme poverty and the threat of nuclear confrontation fill the headlines of social media, television and newspapers on a daily basis. In the midst of this, there increasingly are other headlines that point to the rising torrents of hate being broadcast by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we do not have the option of pretending that we can do nothing as this is taking place. We must respond.

First, we must let God’s love in Jesus Christ shape all of our responses. We have received the gift of salvation that transforms us from the inside out. This means that hate-in-kind is not an appropriate response. Love is. We are called to exercise the spiritual discipline of bold love even when we are righteously angry.

Second, we must speak the truth about something that is fundamentally a spiritual issue. We cannot shy away from making it clear that the recent rise of groups like those that gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia is intolerable. Their vision of life is radically opposite of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because hatred, venom, racism and violence are radically opposite of the way our Lord lived and died. Sin must be called sin. But even as we speak this truth, we do so knowing we, too, are sinners.

Third, we must have conversations as brothers and sisters in Christ around racism and the rising tide of violence. They will be painful because it is always difficult to address our own feelings, uncertainties and questions. But it must happen.

Fourth, we must begin to build bridges in our world that bring about the reconciliation that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:18, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (NIV) Media, government and educational establishments cannot accomplish this work. It is the work of the Church of Jesus Christ that we must embrace with humility and hope.

Sometimes events like those that occurred in Charlottesville seem completely unrelated to you. They are not because you have embraced the salvation Jesus gives you, you are his disciple and you have answered, “Yes!” to the following questions:

On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,
reject the evil powers of this world,
and repent of your sin?

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior,
put your whole trust in his grace,
and promise to serve him as your Lord,
in union with the Church which Christ has opened
to people of all ages, nations, and races?

According to the grace given to you,
will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy Church
and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?

Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. He invites us not only to live every moment of our lives in his hope, but also to share it with the world. I know the people of The United Methodist Church in Arkansas. And I know you are ready to be the hands and feet of Christ in a world of sin, brokenness and hopelessness.

Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller