John Wesley scares me

John Wesley scares the heck out of me.

I don’t think I’ve ever written that on this blog, so it is about time I come clean.

He scares me because following his example would tear apart my life. Have you read his thoughts on “The Use of Money“? Have you ever done any actual field preaching? Do you have any ideas how many miles he traveled without any vacations to Disney World or sabbaticals on the beach?

I’m a middle-class, middle American. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the ones who complained to the town constable about those rabble rousing Methodists.

And — let’s be honest — John Wesley does not hold a candle to Jesus. If a simple English priest like Wesley can make me feel like a coward and a slothful Christian, how much worse does my life look when I put it next to Jesus?

This is what they call convicting grace.



11 thoughts on “John Wesley scares me

  1. Wesley is a little scary because the bar was set so high.
    Luther was a “by faith and faith alone” man.
    Wesley was too but with a twist.
    Luther believed in total dependency on Gods work within us for change toward holiness.
    Wesley also believed in the work of the spirit but with a twist.
    The twist I hear is the demand for Christian perfection with the scent of works or man’s hand somewhere included.

    Luther believed when the Holy Spirit of God was at work in the believer change was imminent and work toward holiness by ones own means and design was useless and did not and would never reach the goal.
    Luther believed the work of Gods Spirit in man would satisfy the written laws of God and exceed or reach levels beyond even those written.

     “Reason knows nothing about the wretchedness of depraved nature. It does not recognize the fact that no man is able to keep God’s commandments; that all are under sin and condemnation; and that the only way whereby help could be received was for God to give his Son for the world, ordaining another ministration, one through which grace and reconciliation might be proclaimed to us. Now, he (reason) who does not understand the sublime subject of which Paul speaks cannot but miss the true meaning of his words. How much more did we invite this fate when we threw the Scriptures and Saint Paul’s epistles under the bench, “ Martin Luther on Spirit and Letter

    What do you think Wesley would say about that?

    1. If one takes Wesley seriously and thinks that how he viewed/taught what it means to be Christian, one has to consider the very real possibility that the UMC will never be a Wesleyan Church. What would Wesley say about our efforts to maintain our institution over what God intends? Now that’s a scary thought!

    2. Wesley was as strong a preacher of the depravity of human capabilities as any reformer. It is only by grace, he would have agreed, that we are even capable of desiring to keep God’s commandments. Unless awakened, he would preach, the wisest and smartest man alive is still ignorant and blind to his own state and God’s glory.

  2. “The Use of Money” is quite intimidating—and Biblical. God DOES provide for us as we step out of our comfort zone to seek the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. It is a truth I have tested, but keep forgetting. it is also incompatible with institutional religion–quite revolutionary.

    You’ve nailed the problem of the UMC here, John. We are poor stewards of God’s resources.

    1. Do you mean, Holly, that institutional religion is always one that will cater to or promote another set of values?

      1. I am not sure I am comfortable with the word “always”. Sometimes God DOES find a way to use our institutions to accomplish God’s purpose. However, I would say that when the institution is focused on it’s own prosperity or self-preservation, it tends to “cater or promote another set of values” rather than the purposes of God.

        1. Thanks, Holly. I thought that was where you were going, but I wanted to check my assumptions.

          I am reminded of Wesley’s warning that once the Methodists built buildings they would find themselves in the thrall of rich men.

  3. I am also reminded of the almost humorous Biblical story of the transfiguration–when Simon tried to “build booths” to mark or hold onto the transcendent experience of Jesus’ meeting with Moses and Elijah….

  4. I long for an outpouring of God’s grace that will allow us to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and JOYFULLY follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It is a scary prospect indeed, but also our best hope.

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