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March 2 – John Wesley

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Surrounded by the mob in Wednesbury, England

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

More thoughts for meditation about John Wesley

John Wesley lived for most of the 18th  century (1703-1791). He was the world-famous founder of Methodism which is alive and well in many forms all over Creation right now.

John and his brother, Charles, were twentysomethings when they began to meet as the “Holy Club” they founded at Oxford. They read spiritual classics and tried to apply what they read to their lives and encourage one another. It sounds a lot like a cell meeting.

In 1735 John and Charles went on a missionary trip to the colony of Georgia. John returned very discouraged that he couldn’t translate his ideas about God in effective ways for the people of the colony. In this period of discouragement, he became friends with a Moravian preacher, Peter Boehler. At a small religious meeting connected to the Moravians in Aldersgate Street, London, on May 24, 1738, John had an experience with God that changed his life. He famously described this experience as having his heart “strangely warmed.”  This personal encounter with God prompted John to spend the rest of his life energetically encouraging others to meet God personally. This encounter with God seems to have caused his faith to move from mostly his head to his heart; it activated a deep dependence on God’s grace and a whole new way of living that he then shared with thousands of people.

Wesley’s faith was devoted to social justice as well preaching. It is hard to overestimate how large a transforming force the Methodists were in England and the United States in the 17 and 1800s. They can be congratulated for being instrumental in the abolition of slavery by England, as well as the uplifting or the poor in countless ways.

Notables quotes from Wesley:

“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. As long as ever you can.”

“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can”

“Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.”

“Every one, though born of God in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees.”

“When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.”

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”

“A Christian may go abundantly further: his end in all his labor is to please God — to do not his own will but the will of Him who sent him into the world for this very purpose: to do the will of God on earth as angels do in heaven. He works for eternity. He does not labor for the food that perishes (this is the smallest part of his motive), but for that which endures to everlasting life. And is not this a more excellent way?”

  • Want more? Try this article from Christian History magazine [link]
  • Five minute video bio [link]

Suggestions for Action

John Wesley caused enormous change in the lives of individuals and in both England and the United States by giving people practical ways to live out radical faith. Circle of Hope reflects his methods. Do you contribute to the means we have to be change agents together, or do you kind of do your own thing?

Ask God to move you from your head to heart — or just anywhere.

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