July 2020 — pg. 3
By Jeff Finley
Jeff Finley is this magazine’s
executive editor and a member of
John Wesley FMC in Indianapolis.
He joined LIGHT + LIFE in 2011
after a dozen years of reporting and
editing for Sun-Times Media.
At the beginning of the year, who would have predicted
that we’d be more likely to be frightened by someone not
wearing a face mask in a store or a bank than by someone
who is wearing one? Who would guess that toilet paper would
become such a hot commodity? Who would have guessed that
most church buildings would be shut for months?
It feels like we’re comic-book characters suddenly
transported to an alternate universe that’s similar but not quite
the same. (This comic trope is exemplified by the animated
movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which won an
Oscar last year.) Whether you normally feel like you’re well-connected
to the people around you or you usually feel like an
outsider, my guess is that you’ve felt out of place during these
last few months.
Clarice A. Schultz, a nurse and the author of several books
on loss and change, writes, “Grieving people want to hear the
sayings, songs, and prayers of their youth.” Perhaps that’s why
song lyrics from the 1980s have been flooding my brain lately:
“We are strangers. We are aliens. We are not of this world”
(Petra). “My closest friends are aliens and strangers, travelers
here, living with danger” (DeGarmo & Key). “My world has
changed so promise me You’ll never part” (BeBe & CeCe
We’re called as Christians to be different from other people
in this ever-changing world. This month LIGHT + LIFE
focuses on what it means to be “strangers in the world.” Keep
reading for the wisdom of Free Methodist leaders such as
Bishop Linda Adams, Assistant Superintendent Jon Swanson,
Pastors Jill Richardson and Roberta Mosier-Peterson, and
Communications Director Brett Heintzman as we look at
what it means to be in this world but “not of this world.”
This month’s URFM section features Alyssa Galios, who
knows what it’s like to experience unexpected changes and
heartbreak in life. God is using her compelling life story to
inspire other people that they are “made for brave.” Thank you
to the missionary (not named here because of the missionary’s
work in especially dangerous areas of the world) who recently
introduced me to her.
You may expect to feel like a stranger in the world when
you’re around co-workers or neighbors who aren’t Christians,
and your Christian beliefs may not be popular with them.
After all, Jesus said the world may hate you sometimes just as
it hated Him (John 15:18–19).
If you’re like me, you may have found yourself in a
situation where you feel like a stranger among other people
who profess faith in Christ. Through past involvement in an
interdenominational ministry, I’ve been the one person at
the table with whom everyone else disagrees on a theological
Now I’m about to become known as “Jeff, the pastor’s
husband,” as my wife, Jen, becomes the lead pastor of our
church this month. This may come as a shock to longtime
friends and extended family members whose churches don’t
ordain women. Without changing my beliefs, I may go from
being seen as a fellow evangelical Christian to a strange man
whose ways are not their ways.
The Free Methodist Church sometimes seems like a bit of
a stranger because our views don’t fit neatly with the loudest
voices in American Christianity. We have a strong emphasis
on sanctification and holy living. We also have a longtime
history of advocating for the poor, women, and racial and
ethnic justice and equity. These biblically based beliefs should
go together, but they often don’t.
This month’s magazine includes coverage of the recent
“Talk, Listen & Learn Together” discussion (https://vimeo.
com/426966207) with five Free Methodist African American
leaders and our Board of Bishops. Please read the article,
watch the video, and consider how you can be a Christian who
works alongside other aliens and strangers to make this world
a more just and equitable place.
Life can be strange and unpredictable as we follow and
serve a God who’s known to work in mysterious ways. As the
Lord tells Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher
than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my
thoughts than your thoughts” (55:8–9).+
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