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Holiness- It’s a Group Project

by Hannah Godfrey on June 04, 2024

What if the whole world was holy? What if our religion wasn’t separated from our lives, centralized in a church building, but if the sacred was held between us at all times, in every interaction? African communities have a philosophy called Ubuntu which roughly translates to “I am because you are.”  This philosophy emphasizes the interconnectedness of individuals. You cannot be human all by yourself. The Lakota people have a phrase “Mitakuye Oyasin” which roughly translates to “we are all related.” It comes from the indigenous understanding that all life is sacred. All life is interconnected.

There is much we can learn from our Native American and African siblings, yet this theme has permeated our DNA as United Methodists.  

In our baptismal vows, the faith community is asked: Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include these persons now before you in your care?

Will you nurture one another?

Practicing Christianity in community is central to the Christian faith. It is not just a personal matter but a social one, compelling us to unite and help each other grow in faith.

There is no holiness but social holiness. -John Wesley

Wesley said, “The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social, no holiness but social holiness. You cannot be holy except as you are engaged in making the world a better place. You do not become holy by keeping yourself pure and clean from the world but by plunging into ministry on behalf of the world’s hurting ones.” For Welsey, the measure of success is whether the world is a better, more just, more compassionate place. When Wesley says that holiness is social, he means that the depth of your love for God is revealed by the way you love whom God loves. And make no mistake, God loves all of creation. Even the people we don’t. Especially the people we don’t.

The writer of 1 John describes the social nature of holiness: "We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (1 John 4:19-21)."

If you truly love God then you must love your brother and sister in Christ and your neighbor. This requires you to be in relationships with the people God places alongside you in the church, and the people of your neighborhood, city, and the world.

We are all in this difficult, sad, joyful, messy life together. We all take part in one another’s holiness. It is a group effort, a group project.

Challenge: Check out the UMC Social Principles and prayerfully ask God what you are being called to actively address in our community and world.

A Vision of Hope
We pray that someday an arrow will be broken,
not in something or someone, but by each of humankind,
to indicate peace, not violence.
Someday, oneness with creation,
rather than domination over creation,
will be the goal to be respected.
Someday fearlessness to love and make a difference
will be experienced by all people.
Then the eagle will carry our prayer for peace and love,
and the people of the red, white, yellow, brown and black communities
can sit in the same circle together to communicate in love
and experience the presence of the Great Mystery in their midst.
Someday can be today for you and me. Amen.
(Wanda Lawrence, Chippewa. 20th Cent.)


Tags: vespers, social holiness