Thursday, May 12, 2011
One of the more crucial of John Wesley's early sermons, preached at Oxford at the beginning of the Methodist Revival was entitled 'the almost and the altogether Christian'. John Wesley was apt to say that you can be as orthodox as the devil, for the devil knows the truth about Jesus and God, but that truth has not transformed him, and still not be saved. For Wesley the heart of religion was the religion of the heart, by which was meant real internal conversion of the human mind and spirit by means of the Spirit of God.What a marvelous insight - even Satan has orthodox belief. For belief to be "real," maybe even "authentic," it must be effective.
"When the witness and the fruit of the Spirit meet together, there can be no stronger proof that we are of God." (John Wesley, letter: 31 March 1787). It was not just the inner sense of assurance of salvation, but the evidence of changed character and behavior that indicated a person was of God.
How little effective faith we see these days, and the effects we try to illicit seem to be misplaced. Here are some questions:
- If we go on a mission trip and spend the whole time bickering with others, is Christianity effective?
- If we seek the "rush" of "genuine" worship while the older members of the congregation leave because of the volume of the music, in Christianity effective?
- If we have to be comfortable with "our call" before we can serve others, is Christianity effective?
The effects of Christianity are less about what we do and more about how we do it. That is very scary stuff. We want light duty, God wants to strip us to our skeletons and remake us.
Sometimes we don't need to ask God what to do - we need to ask Him who we are.