Ethics and Religion

1. Part two of McClendon concerns the church as a caring community. This community is not isolated but is part of the world.

It has rules or laws that govern its actions and activities individually and collectively. One cannot embrace Christianity and live outside of society but, Christians should live in this world with its social mores as unified followers of Christ. We must be guided by the Holy Spirit to live socially, politically, and morally.

Christians cannot ignore the fact that we live in a world with principalities and powers. These powers are not other worldly but they are of such that we deal with in our everyday lives. In our government we hear that there is a separation of church and state but, as followers of Christ we cannot ignore these powers. I believe we can live and be nonviolent but we cannot live not speaking out against the unjust deeds, and deplorable conditions in this world. However, we have to do this as a unified caring community.

McClendon says that the caring community has both an internal and external moral life. The internal life concerns Christian living on a personal level. As a caring community we are responsible for others in the world also. McClendon uses the Sermon on the Mount as the rules or guide for living in this community. Do the church today practice mercy, compassion, and love as expressed by Jesus in this sermon? When Christians embrace the attitudes of the Sermon on the Mount others cannot be ignored socially or politically. When Christians ignore politically then we subject ourselves and others to such unfavorable leaders as Hitler. If we are “Our brother’s keeper” then we must stand up to prevent such atrocities as the Holocaust. Although it has taken place we must practice forgiveness if we are really Disciples of Christ.

When the Lord’s Prayer becomes more than merely words to be recited we recognize that forgiveness is integral to the life of the believer. We will not be forgiven if we cannot forgive our brothers and sisters. Healing can never take place if the injury is never forgiven. The Lord’s Supper provides not only an avenue for forgiveness but, it brings the community of Christ together creating a unified body. It is the central theme for the caring community. It causes the injuring party to recognize the act of harm and to seek forgiveness, along with the injured party the ability to extend forgiveness to those who caused the injury. The act of forgiveness helps the community to maintain itself. Without forgiveness the community will destroy itself.

2. Part I shows us how Christians embodies the ethics of Jesus the Christ or how we live the ethics of Jesus.

Chapter one told us that we are a convictional community that lives by a set standard or conviction. As followers of Christ we have taken on his attitudes and follow in his convictions to bring others into the community of believers. We embrace the Bible as the authoritative Word of God therefore we follow the standards and instructions of it. We believe that we have the freedom to respond to God without fear or reservation and by following the previous standards we can expect a life transformed into service by Jesus Christ. Here we begin the connection with part two which says that a life transformed by service does not end with self but, it is a life transformed into service to others. We are the body of Christ a caring community that loves and forgives one another as Christ would have us do.

3. Does your church practice what McClendon describes in Part II?

My church does practice a community of care because we are what are known as a connectional church. My church is part of a district, and this district is part of the Western North Carolina Conference. This conference is then part of the general church that makes up all of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches of the world. We care for others through mission and community work. We are politically active by history having included in our membership such persons as Sojourner Truth, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Fredrick Douglas. We reach across denominational lines as we are members of the World Federation of Churches. We are part of the AIDS Council that is fighting this deadly disease worldwide. However, have we done enough in being a caring community? I think we have much work to be done still. There continues to be underprivileged persons, those who are starving, those who are considered second class citizens, and as the Bible tells us “The harvest is plentiful but, the laborers are few”.

4. How would you go about getting an already established church to follow the procedure which McClendon recommends?

The only way is to bring the body to follow the procedures in McClendon is by beginning to follow what is found in the scriptures. The Sermon on the Mount gives us the teachings of Jesus that we should follow as a caring community. If the members are the disciples of Jesus then we follow his teachings and the Way that is already paved for us, first and foremost we must love without it we can do nothing else. If the church is just a game without goals, rules, or means to reach the goal then the church has failed as a caring community. Outreach ministry will have to be established to fulfill the mission of Christ. The church will have to become politically active becoming a voice for those who have none and not turn a deaf ear on those issues that impact the community as well as the church.

5. Suppose you are part (as leader/pastor) of a group of Christians which is forming into a church. How would you go about beginning the discipline process which will be an integral part of that new church?

First, I would like to know if we all shared the same theological thoughts because the church needs to be a cohesive entity. I would want to know if we all shared or hoped to share similar ethical and moral standards. Without this we would just be a group with no guidelines or rules to live by. I would hope that these standards will be those of Jesus. Next I would establish each member with a partner because I believe that we all need someone to keep us accountable, for support, encouragement, and for prayer. The class system works well in this area.