What should we be zealous for?

Kevin Watson has given a blogger the biggest compliment the blogosphere can offer – an extended and thoughtful response on his own blog.

He writes in response to my post in which I suggested that we go off track in our efforts to return to our Wesleyan roots if we focus too much on doctrine. My point was not that we ignore doctrine, but Watson wonders if I am missing something important.

He writes:

While I am all for spirit and zeal, it seems to me that we need something more substantial if Wesley has anything to offer which is worth reclaiming today. There are, after all, plenty of examples of spirited and zealous people whose steps we would not want to walk in. Thus, it seems that we rightly judge someone’s spirit and zeal by its content. In other words, what was Wesley zealous about?

His comment brings to mind John Wesley’s sermon On Zeal, in which he writes:

Take then the whole of religion together, just as God has revealed it in his word; and be uniformly zealous for every part of it, according to its degree of excellence. Grounding all your zeal on the one foundation, “Jesus Christ and him crucified;” holding fast this one principle, “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved ME, and gave himself for ME;” proportion your zeal to the value of its object. Be calmly zealous, therefore, first, for the Church; “the whole state of Christ’s Church militant here on earth:” and in particular for that branch thereof with which you are more immediately connected. Be more zealous for all those ordinances which our blessed Lord hath appointed, to continue therein to the end of the world. Be more zealous for those works of mercy, those “sacrifices wherewith God is well pleased,” those marks whereby the Shepherd of Israel will know his sheep at the last day. Be more zealous still for holy tempers, for long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, lowliness, and resignation; but be most zealous of all for love, the queen of all graces, the highest perfection in earth or heaven, the very image of the invisible God, as in men below, so in angels above. For “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

One thought on “What should we be zealous for?

  1. John – Thanks for the link! I am glad you took my post as a compliment, because that is how it was intended. I am sure much of what I said could be improved up. In any case, thanks for making me think more carefully about our heritage as Methodists.



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