Nobody is happy, and maybe that is okay. Nobody ever said that being faithful to proclaim the gospel to all people in our diverse culture would ever be easy. As I have been closely watching the church I love, The United Methodist Church’s General Conference, I have been stunned at the way both sides have taken to demonizing and depicting the other as the “enemy.” That’s the trouble with living in the “via media,” the middle way. It means you must accept that you live in tension, that you live in struggle, and that there are no easy answers.
When you take the “via media” you live with tension. You acknowledge deep disagreements with ideas and deep love for the people who hold them. You have to live the tension that you read the same Scripture completely differently. You have to live with the tension you may be wrong. That is why we get defensive, is that we are afraid we may be wrong, so in order to insure we are “right” we paint “the other” as completely wrong. I choose the “via media” even if it means I choose tension.
When you take the “via media” it means you live in the struggle. Whether it is issues of restructuring, salary support, divestment, or sexuality, there will be struggles. There will be convicted and passionate people of integrity on both sides. The United Methodist Church is an educated bunch, they know the Bible, they read the periodicals, we do not accept things just because a radio personality proposes them or a fiery preacher advocates them. I choose the “via media” even if it means I choose struggle.
When you take the “via media” it means you accept there are no “easy answers.” On every issue, that is what it seems we want, a “one size fits all” answer. Despite Staple’s best efforts, life does not come with an “Easy” button. Easy answers are like “cheap grace,” there will always be a bigger cost later. Let us just accept that no answer, however well crafted and carefully articulated, will please everyone.
When we choose the “via media” we choose to embrace the tension, embrace the struggle, and accept that there are no “easy” answers. We are called to love our “enemy” even if they call us names and demonize our views and interpretations. We are called to turn the other cheek rather than raise a hand to retaliate. We are called to pray rather than protest. I pray for the Church I love, for the people who make the decisions, and for the leadership that will help us continue on the “via media.” When you get home, or better yet while you are there fighting, will you join me in taking the “via media?”