In his second address to the Annual Conference, Dr. L. Gregory Jones changed the focus of his exploration of generosity to humanity and challenged us to be “Living Generously” by again starting with a Peanuts reference. After missing the ball in the outfield multiple times in a game, Lucy tells Charlie Brown, “I thought it would be different this year, but I started thinking about all the other times I dropped the ball. The past got in my eyes.”
We in the church can also get “the past in our eyes.” We get excited about leaving Egypt, or building the temple, or getting a new pastor, but then the past gets in our eyes. Jones reminded us that Jesus changes that. Jesus Christ gives our life back. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can begin the process of unlearning of brokenness and sin.
Jones challenged us to live more like John Wesley, encouraged us to live through the early Methodist Bands and Classes, and hold each other accountable. We need what Dr. Jones calls, “holy friends” for three reasons. We need people around us who “challenge the sins we’ve come to love,” “affirm gifts we’re afraid to claim,” and “dream dreams we otherwise wouldn’t dream.” These holy friends help us see the abundance of life as God sees it.
Jones’ final challenge was to put the cross with the flame and remember that “the purpose of [humanity] is to live not merely exist.”