Spirit Alive: It's Time to Recover Our Mission


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.

April 10, 2018

With Heart, Soul, and Mind:

When Your Heart is at Peace, Your Mind Can Be Renewed...

And When Your Mind is Renewed, The World Can Be Transformed

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

From Paul's letter to the church in Rome, Romans 12: 2

Like many others, I watched the amazing Easter production of Jesus Christ Superstar, starring John Legend, Brandon Victor Dixon, Sara Bareilles, and Alice Cooper. What a remarkable experience! But like the cast that sings, "What's the Buzz, Tell Me What's Happening?"...I too want to know what happens now after all the chaos of Jesus' last week, which included the crucifixion and the resurrection.

What's next?

What am I supposed to do with this story...

and the all buzz its created?

And...how do these events change how I live my life from now on?

I think the clue to what happens next resides in Matthew 28: 19, where Jesus appears to his disciples and commissions them to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations." In other words, "if you've decided to follow my way through all this, then your next step is to demonstrate what that Way is all about as well." And at the same time, Jesus said that he would be with them on the journey through time and to the ends of the earth.

Jesus' words remind me of what we, in the United Methodist Church, say to ourselves about our mission: "The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

It's hard enough to be a disciple, but what on earth does it mean for us to commit ourselves to transforming the world? It sounds good on paper as a mission statement, but it sure isn't easy to pull off in the real world. And where does transformation begin?

This year, at annual conference, we will have the opportunity to hear Rev. Brian Brown speak and teach

about The Anatomy of Peace: resolving the heart of conflict. We'll also have the opportunity to meet in small groups on several occasions to discuss how we can integrate these important teachings into our lives. In the Preface of the book, the authors say: "The Anatomy of Peace...demonstrates how conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause. Furthermore, the book shows how we systematically misunderstand that cause and unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve."

A key part of the solution has to do with creating a heart that is at peace...so that one consciously views others not as objects or problems or burdens or less than, but as people like me "with needs, cares, worries, and fears that matter like mine do."

Perhaps this is why Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a holocaust survivor and bestselling author, says, that The Anatomy of Peace is "a book that could change the face of humanity." It sure sounds like we're talking about the transformation of the world here, doesn't it?

Several years ago now, I saw a very powerful video on compassion that the Cleveland Clinic developed. It is not new, and it describes something that we all can easily understand. It's called empathy. And this simple concept could change your life. It is at the heart of Jesus' teaching. It is the essence of the message in Anatomy of Peace...and it could very well transform the world. Take a look at what I'm talking about, click here.

Interestingly, as it says in the hymn "Let There Be Peace on Earth," the reality is that this transformation begins within each of us...first!  You see....transformation ripples out from one open heart, one renewed mind, one changed life...at a time.

Here's the point: We live in a very transactional world, which views our relationships with each other as being based on utilitarian, objective, mechanical interactions. But what would happen if this were changed into what Martin Buber called "I-Thou" relationships, where the the divine in me encountered the divine in you...and we saw each other as sacred beings made in the image of God. Wow, what a concept...what a Way to live!

This Way of life would take us into a different state of consciousness, in which Paul says, "our minds would be renewed." This would change everything. It would change how you started your day and how you experienced others throughout it.

So this raises a question: Can we really transform the world? Is our mission statement within reach? Well...I guess that depends on you...and me...and it has to do with having hearts that are at peace...and that are open and empathetic toward others. It would mean seeing the spiritual world in our midst and the divine in our encounters with one another. Now that would be transformational, but it would mean believing in a different way of being and opening ourselves to a new reality. Are you willing to believe in something new...something that could be transformational for all of us? Frankly, it appears to be our mission.

I have a sign in my office that says: "Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible." Maybe this is the secret to transforming the world...and in the process becoming disciples of Jesus ourselves.

Let us walk in the light of God's love,


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.




Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org