Sunday I’m preaching from the passage of scripture in Romans eight in which we talk about how God is for us, how God cares about us, and how God works in our lives for us to become conformed to the image of Christ.
Of course for me the first question I want to ask is, who is “us?” I grew in the context of church from a congregationalist background where the congregation was “us.” So much so that communion was only for the members of that congregation. Even fellow members of the same denominational family were not really “us.”
When I was first getting to know United Methodists I would often refer to the UMC as “they” and “them.” A mentor in UMC ministry told me that as I transitioned into the Church that one day I would find that it was no longer “they” or “them” but that I would become part of “us.” I learned that I did indeed transition to a place where I am part of the “us” of the United Methodist Church. And it feels good to be one of “us.”
Beyond United Methodists the wider “us” is all of the Christian faith. All of “us” who call on the name of Jesus are part of the same “us” known as the universal Church. It is what we mean when we say the Apostles’ Creed and say, “I believe in the holy catholic church….” Catholic in that context means the universal “us.”
But is that enough? Is that adequate? When God created humanity he created the yet bigger “us.” We are all part of the same human family. We are all God’s children. So when I say that “God loves us.” God doesn’t mean God loves us United Methodists or God just loves us Christians, or God loves us Americans or God loves…. You get the picture.
God loves the whole diverse human family, not just the “us” that I like to make myself a part of or am the most comfortable in.
We as the church at First UMC Indianola and as the United Methodist Church need to think about a bigger “us.” When we seek to share the love of God and that God loves everyone, that God loves ALL we are saying that you are a part of “us.” We want to tell Indianola that you are part of “us” and are welcome. We want to say to people who are unique and different that we want them to be part of “us” too. Because God is for a really really big “us” not a narrow, small “us.”
So the next time you read the words “if God is for us who can be against us” read that in the context of the big “us” of humanity. God is for God’s children and God calls all of us God’s children. That’s us!