By Jeff Finley
Bishop Matt Thomas reflected on the past and present condition of the Free Methodist Church – USA as members celebrated the denomination’s 150th birthday.
“When I travel around, I’m excited about what I see, and sometimes I’m concerned. I am cautiously optimistic,” Thomas said during the Saturday, July 16, worship service at which General Conference 2011 attendees celebrated the denomination’s century and a half of ministry.
“I’m cautious because sometimes I see that we don’t take full advantage of the things that we could, but I’m optimistic,” Thomas told the large crowd in Roberts Wesleyan College’s Voller Athletic Center. “Everywhere we go, we see God at work in incredible ways.”
Thomas said God is the deliverer, and we are the delivery system to take the whole gospel to the whole world for the whole person.
He gave a question for each person to ask: “Who do I need to be to do what God wants me to do?”
Despite the Free Methodist Church’s reputation as a holiness denomination, Thomas said church members have sometimes failed to ask that question.
“In Free Methodist history, there have been times where we have forgotten that,” he said.
Thomas said personal holiness should be compelled from the transformation inside, and our behavior should be based on love and the Holy Spirit’s leading. At our worst moments, our conversation of personal holiness has turned “into nothing more than strict legalism.”
“We all come to the Lord broken, but God does fix things. That’s the whole concept of holiness – that God fixes us and makes us usable so we can live a life in honor and glory of Him, worthy of the gospel in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” said Thomas, referencing Colossians 1:10.
“It’s the birthday of the Free Methodist Church. We’re celebrating 150 years. Let’s be the most transformed people in the world so our future is so bright that for years and years down the line, we are bringing good news.”
Thomas invited attendees to come forward if they felt God leading them. Many flooded the area in front of the stage to pray for God’s guidance in their lives.
“Lord Jesus, we so desperately want the Free Methodist family to have an impact in this world,” Thomas prayed. “Lord, we’ve been looking at the past, and now we ask You to launch us into the future.”