Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Only the humble

2/1/2019

By Bishop Jimmy Nunn

Jimmy, a guide, gives instructions on how to enter the “eye of the needle.” Photo by Bishop Jimmy Nunn.

A bus load of Oklahoma Conference clergy and spouses joined me on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in January. Many of the clergy had been ordained in recent years. About half of the group had never been to the land of the Bible prior to this trip. It was a great trip.

I want to express my appreciation to Educational Opportunities, our guide for their service and financial support of our travelers, to the Oklahoma Methodist Foundation for its generous scholarship support of our recently ordained, and to our organizational guru, Derrek Belase for his organization and management of the trip.

There are many things I am still processing about this trip, but one of those concepts is especially timely as we near the called session of General Conference this month. The reflection centers on entering the door of a famous church. I’ve included a closeup photo of it, with our guide, Jimmy, giving us instructions. Jimmy stands just a little over five feet in stature. He towers over the door, which comes to almost the height of his shoulders.

You may recognize the church, just by the door. But many of us will wonder what church this is. Indeed, this is the front door. We were preparing to enter it.

Entering this place required special preparations. I had to bend myself almost in half and keep my head low to enter. The door does not allow those who walk upright to pass. It requires a humble position, a bowed head, and a trust that an enemy is not on the other side waiting to rob you or worse.

Some call the door the “eye of the needle.” We have heard the saying of Jesus, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.” Some believe the saying refers to the fact that even a camel can pass through this door. However, it can carry nothing on its back, it must get on its knees, lower its head and inch its way in. The point: only those who humble themselves can enter.

Perhaps that is how we should approach the coming General Conference in St. Louis this month. Perhaps we should remove our loads (agendas), assume a posture of humility, and inch our way into the gathering. Only the humble will connect with God.

Have you figured our where the church is located? It is the main entrance to the Church of the Nativity, “where the humble Christ was born.”

What posture are we assuming as we enter our churches? What attitude do we take with us when we leave them?


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