The two great commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I don’t know about you. I am not there yet.
Some Christians would tell me that it is wrong to expect to ever get there. They believe that we cannot actually obey the command of Christ on this side of heaven. We are fallen and imperfect creatures who cannot love as God loves and should not delude ourselves into expecting that God’s grace can fix this flaw in us.
It is a comforting doctrine. It makes me comfortable about my own soul. It eases doubts I have about whether I am who God wants me to be. It eases my conscience over all the ways that I fail to love God and neighbor every day. What more, after all, can I expect? I am only human.
As rational and comforting as these words are, they simply are not Wesleyan.
Most or all of you know that John Wesley repeated the two great commandments frequently. For him — as for many, many other Christians — these are the marks of a true Christian. Wesley went further than many, however, in that he believed that since Jesus had commanded us to do these things, he also provided a means by which we could do them. In Wesley’s words, every command of Christ is both law and gospel. It is law in that it tell us what to do. It is gospel in that it promises the power to do it.
The very definition of “going on to perfection” is becoming the person, by the grace of God, who fulfills the two great commandments. Methodism believes and affirms that you and I can be the people who really do love God with all we are and love our neighbors as purely as we love ourselves.
I am not there yet. But God in his word tells me that I should expect to reach that place by grace. Jesus does not deny us the power to do what he commands.