When I studied for a year at the University of Salzburg in Austria nearly 12 years ago, I became quite cynical of my own country. Its customs, worldview, foreign policy and other flaws were usually under scrutiny…and I agreed with most of the criticism. And in some ways, I sought to separate myself from “typical Americans.”
But when the World Cup came around, I could not be more prideful of my homeland and its soccer team. Why is that?
Many times people make the mistake of assuming that criticism only comes from spiteful outsiders, and that encouragement only comes from those who have gotten with the program. Of course, this is sometimes true. But it should be considered that critique may stem from a desire to improve something that is loved and identified with.
I have been critical of the church at times — my denomination in particular and institutionalism in general. But the truth is that when I’m in a public place and discover a fellow Christian (or even Methodist) in the fold, I immediately feel an affinity with them. And the truth is, I really love being Methodist! I enjoy its history, theology, and ecclesiology.
So if you hear any call for renewal, for transformation, for change…well…it’s because I actually care.