Have you ever read anything that simply captured your imagination? Last week in our appointive cabinet meeting, Rev. Dan Morley placed before us a quote from John Wesley, the man credited with creating the Wesleyan movement, as part of our devotional time. The words have stayed in my heart and mind, so much so that I wanted to share them with you as we prepare to enter into our Lenten journey together. Here they are:
“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.”
As I read those words I was caught with the reality that Wesley continually calls me back to that place where I am reminded that this spiritual journey is first a journey of inner transformation. He prays for “a revival of holiness in our day.” Holiness is seen in the consistency between one’s beliefs and one’s behaviors. We certainly could use a revival of holiness in this day, don’t you agree? If you believe in grace and forgiveness, do you extend grace and forgiveness to others? If you believe in radical love, do you love in ways that demonstrate your belief? If you believe that God does not condemn people but offers them second chances, do you refrain from condemning others, instead offering second chances? You get the idea.
Wesley goes on to add a product of that inner transformation. The product is an outward focus of one’s actions in faith. He writes, “…that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed …” Those are power-packed words. Wesley firmly believed that once you experienced that sense of a new beginning that the natural thing to do was to find some way to live your beliefs in such a way that others would see Christ working in you and through you. To put it simply, for John Wesley inner transformation leads to an outward focus. In Wesley’s day he would have encouraged us to personal piety and social holiness.
In a little over a week our churches will invite you to experience a most holy Ash Wednesday service. It will be an opportunity for each one of us to examine our lives to see if we truly live what we say we believe. If our behaviors have not aligned with our beliefs, Ash Wednesday and Lent provide for us a path to renewal. I would encourage you not to miss this opportunity.
Churches that focus on uniting inner transformation and outward focus (uniting personal piety and social holiness) find themselves impacting lives in ways that are powerful. They truly fulfill the vision set by our Conference. It’s not about words on paper. It is about a conviction that we live what we believe.
Take a few moments to read John Wesley’s words. Then ask yourself:
What captures your imagination in his words?
What do you believe a revival of holiness could do in your life, your church, your community?
How does your behavior/actions fulfill God’s creational intentions?
My prayers are with you.