BEING A METHODIST
I was a Lutheran my first eighteen years. When I went to Pfeiffer, I began worshiping in the Methodist chapel. After my years there, I visited several churches, but I was always drawn to those which were Methodist. For me, there is a mix of emphasis on spiritual growth by Sunday school, Bible study, and various classes AND there is an emphasis on social growth by caring for others and for the world. I love the fellowship that happens in meals eaten together often, passing of the peace that is hard to stop because of the welcoming spirit that seems to permeate Methodist churches, and the many opportunities to help others. LOVE IT! LOVE IT ALL! But I also confess that I’d been a Methodist several years before I actually learned about John Wesley. He would have been a hero of mine because of his methodical way of living, teaching, working in the kingdom. I am a structured person, a list maker, a praying/journaling Christian very much in love with Jesus. YOU may think of John Wesley as your hero for another side of him. He was somewhat of a rebel, taught hymns to the tunes of some very social songs sung in bars and in the streets. He broke from the Anglican church and let’s say, did his own thing in following Jesus, making disciples, and transforming the world.
John Wesley’s sermons, cataloged and numbered, can be read in books and online. You might struggle with them. I do. They’re deep. But there are also short, powerful quotes like “DO ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN BY ALL THE MEANS YOU CAN IN ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN, IN ALL THE PLACES YOU CAN AT ALL THE TIMES YOU CAN TO ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN FOR AS LONG AS EVER YOU CAN.” Ok, maybe THAT one isn’t short, but it IS powerful! I love his famous THREE RULES: 1. Do no harm. 2. Do good. 3. Stay in love with God. Aren’t those great rules? They are supported by verses and stories in the Bible (spiritual growth) and they are morally right (social growth). Regardless of the person or the situation, FIRST do no harm by saying something hateful or doing something violent. SECOND, do good by saying something nice or doing something that will make things better. THIRD, stay in love with God by spending time with Him in prayer and His Word. Where God is, there is HOPE. There is PEACE. There is JOY. God planted seeds of the fruit of His Spirit inside us when we came to Him in faith. Living Wesley’s THREE RULES helps the seeds grow and fruit mature. Then we can feed the world with the fruit of love, kindness, and the other forms of fruit. (Gal. 5:23-24)
For the month of October I’ve chosen passages that illustrate Wesley’s Three Rules. I challenge us all, methodical ones and rebels, read the scripture, pray for others, and grow in favor with man and God. Keep Wesley’s THREE RULES. Feed the world that is hungry for gentleness and love.
Bobbie Denny, spiritual lay leader