Living Methodist for 40 days

I want you to help me think through this. Yes, I’m coming late to the idea.

What would it take to live like a Methodist for 40 days of Lent?

My thought is that it would mean taking the General Rules of the Methodist Church and making them a rule of life from Ash Wednesday to Holy Week. Here are those three “simple” rules.

Do No Harm, especially:

The taking of the name of God in vain.

The profaning the day of the Lord, either by doing ordinary work therein or by buying or selling.

Drunkenness: buying or selling spirituous liquors, or drinking them, unless in cases of extreme necessity.

Slaveholding; buying or selling slaves.

Fighting, quarreling, brawling, brother going to law with brother; returning evil for evil, or railing for railing; the using many words in buying or selling.

The buying or selling goods that have not paid the duty.

The giving or taking things on usury—i.e., unlawful interest.

Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; particularly speaking evil of magistrates or of ministers.

Doing to others as we would not they should do unto us.

Doing what we know is not for the glory of God, as:

  • The putting on of gold and costly apparel.
  • The taking such diversions as cannot be used in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • The singing those songs, or reading those books, which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God.

Softness and needless self-indulgence.

Laying up treasure upon earth.

Borrowing without a probability of paying; or taking up goods without a probability of paying for them.

Do Good to All People:

To their bodies, of the ability which God giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the naked, by visiting or helping them that are sick or in prison.

To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or exhorting all we have any intercourse with; trampling under foot that enthusiastic doctrine that “we are not to do good unless our hearts be free to it.”

By doing good, especially to them that are of the household of faith or groaning so to be; employing them preferably to others; buying one of another, helping each other in business, and so much the more because the world will love its own and them only.

By all possible diligence and frugality, that the gospel be not blamed.

By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.

Attend Upon All the Ordinances of God:

The public worship of God.

The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded.

The Supper of the Lord.

Family and private prayer.

Searching the Scriptures.

Fasting or abstinence.

Just reading the list makes it clear to me that I could not do this on my own. This is why we need others to watch over us.

Can you be a Methodist for 40 days?

11 thoughts on “Living Methodist for 40 days

  1. Why don’t we divide up the activities and each be responsible for just a few, thereby being a corporate Methodist? I’ll take slave holding, and therefore agree to not buy or sell any for the next 40 days.

    1. The sad news is there are still places in the world where this is a relevant rule.

  2. The ones that challenge me:

    “Softness and needless self-indulgence”–I have a fair share of creature comforts, and the 20 extra pounds to prove it. How might one go about addressing this softness? P90X? Perhaps Lent should be cheese-free? That sounds torturous.

    “helping them that are sick or in prison”–I visit a lot of sick people, but non in prison. This seems so counter-cultural to our vengeful culture. And yet, visiting the prisons profoundly changed Wesley.

    “Family and private prayer”–It’s amazing how seldom I do this.

    I appreciate the list and the Lenten challenge. Looks like my list just got a little longer.

  3. You are correct when you say you cannot keep the General Rules on your own. It’s impossible to keep this rule of life as individuals. That’s why the context of the General Rules is the class meeting and society. We need the mutual accountability and support provided by fellow Methodists and our class leader. Only when we live within the life of the community can we live the life of Jesus.

    I’ll join you in this challenge. Thanks for bring it to us.

  4. I really appreciate this post. I once made my own insert of the General Rules for my Bible (on full page label paper so that I could permanently have it in my Bible). I would “bump” into them fairly regularly and I would stop and prayerfully walk through the list trying to match my own behaviors with it. Then I got a new Bible and meant to make another insert, but never quite got around to it. Your post has challenged me! I’m renewing this as a priority for myself this Lent.
    However, the key is not just to have the list handy, as helpful as that is. The real key is the accountability!
    Keep up the good work!

  5. What I did not do is think about this far enough in advance to get a group of local Methodists where I live to help me do this.

  6. John, I’m in for this as well. I hope those of us committing to a robust practice of these general rules would be able to confer, challenge, and support one another during Lent.

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