It's Really Just About Love
As United Methodist Christians, we believe in a God of love—fathomless, indescribable love. We believe God made all of humankind in God’s own image, endowed humankind with goodness and purpose, and even came to earth as one of us, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He taught us how to live, died for us, rose again, and sent us out to bless the whole, entire world with love.
For a fuller, bigger picture of what The United Methodist Church believes and teaches, you might take a look at this site . But here are some of the basics:
We believe God loves us even before we know God exists!
Our founder, John Wesley, called this “prevenient grace,” which is a fancy term for the idea that God loves us regardless of what we do and whether or not we’re even aware of God’s presence or existence. God didn’t have to create humans in the first place, let alone create humans in God’s very image—but God did anyway! That’s amazing grace! Plus, God didn’t have to die for us and rise again because of God’s love for humanity, but God did anyway! That’s amazing grace, too! God doesn’t have to love humankind unconditionally—especially considering all the ways we’ve sinned against God and hurt God throughout history and in our daily lives—but God loves us unconditionally anyway! That, too, is amazing grace! We believe God knows every single human being by name, knows our stories, our hurts, our failures, or joys, our passions—and loves us more than our minds can comprehend, and has a plan and a purpose for every person. That’s an amazing, gracious God!
God died and rose again to save us from our sins.
John Wesley called this “justifying grace.” That’s the idea that even though we’ve each sinned (hurt God or become separated from God’s goodness) by the things we’d done or left undone, God still will forgive us our sins when we ask. The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 nrsv), meaning that we’ve all done things that have caused a breach in our relationship with God. But God loved us so much that God made a way for us to be reconciled with God: by becoming a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, dying an actual, human death, and then coming back from the dead on the third day, creating a way to end our separation from God once and for all. United Methodism teaches that God’s justifying grace—the Good News of forgiveness and new life—is available to us for the asking, absolutely free, anytime we’re ready to ask God for it, simply because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That’s Good News indeed!
God helps us, and our society, to become more like God over time.
John Wesley called this “sanctifying grace,” or the process of coming to more and more closely resemble Jesus’ character in the way we live our lives. We get to know God’s character by studying God’s Word, the Bible, and applying it to our lives, and we also use Christian tradition, reason, and our own experience of God’s forgiveness (remember justifying grace?) to help us understand what God’s Word teaches us about how to live and how to treat those around us. We’re broken, messed-up people, just like anybody else—which is why we try to learn who Jesus is, get to know him over time, and follow his lead in how to live and how to treat people and the world around us. We’re not perfect, not by a long shot: but we hope that by the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, God can help us to love God and love the world more and more deeply as we get to know God over time.
United Methodism also teaches that the Christian life is never something that we just do on our own. God showed us compassion by becoming one of us and dying and rising again for us—so to follow God’s example, we also strive to be agents of God’s compassion and love to those around us. That’s why we care so much about poverty, racism, classism, war, disease, creation-care, illiteracy, sexism, marginalization, oppression, and all the other forms of social sin that cause hurt and pain in our world. Our hope is to know God so closely, and to experience God’s love and forgiveness and compassion and justice so hugely in our own lives, that we overflow that same love into the world through working for justice and mercy in whatever ways we can. We hope that by opening ourselves up to God’s love, God can bring about a world that’s free of injustice, where all people can thrive and no one is trampled down or left out.
There’s a whole lot more to be said, and these are only some very broad strokes. We’d encourage you to take a look at the link below to learn more in-depth about what The United Methodist Church teaches, or explore around our website to see some of the ways we try to live out God’s love through what we do at Salmon Creek Church. At our core, though, we’re pretty big on God’s grace, and even though we’re not perfect, we hope you’ll join us in experiencing God’s powerful love for yourself!
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“We proclaim no personal gospel that fails to express itself in relevant social concerns; we proclaim no social gospel that does not include the personal transformation of sinners.”
--Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2012