Bishop Joao Carlos Lopes of the Brazilian Methodist Church led the Bible study for Friday morning. He is the president of the Council of Bishops of the Council of the Evangelical Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Bishop Lopes spoke of the challenge of being “One” in conflicting times. His lesson was from Matthew 10: 1-4 and Ephesians 4:1-6.
Bishop pointed out that belonging is the most important need of every human being.
Each of us fills that need by our “tribes.” His include his family, his soccer team, his country and Methodists. When he was growing up in Brazil, the church provided a space for him to develop his gifts and his skills. His father said that the Sunday school was like a second mother to his children.
He suggested that being in a tribe requires loyalty and exposes our differences therefore leading sometimes to conflict. Jesus called different people from different tribes to be witnesses of God and He did it on purpose. God’s purpose: to unite the whole of creation under the leadership of Christ.
He reminds us that we can maintain and preserve that unity but it will not be of our creation. The Holy Spirit creates unity. As we seek unity through the Holy Spirit, we must look at both our shared roots and our shared mission. Only looking at our roots is a look to the past and we must look to our mission for a shared future.
In the life of the church, it has always been important to discern what is negotiable vs. non-negotiable. We are faced that that question today and we must decide that through discernment of the Holy Spirit.