Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Character of A Methodist

“Is your heart as... mine [with love]?” Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” (2 Kings 10:15)

In 1742, the founder of Methodism John Wesley published a short pamphlet titled “The Character of a Methodist”.   In it, he emphasized the distinction between essential beliefs of the Christian faith and mere opinions. He believed that Christians could be united by a few essential doctrines and yet have differing opinions about a range of other less important things, such as mode of baptism or style of worship.  He wrote, “The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort.  But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.”  

According to Wesley in this pamphlet, a Methodist is one who...

1) “Loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, and with all his strength” and loves their brother and sister as themselves.

2) Not only loves God but keeps his commandments - all of them.

3) Is happy in God . . . his joy is full, and all his bones cry out, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ“

4) “Prays without ceasing." Not that he is always in a house of prayer . . . but at all times the language of his heart is (one of prayer).

5) Is "pure in heart." He has "put on the bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.”

6) Does good to all . . . not only their bodies but also their souls... and to provoke those who have peace with God to abound more in love and good works.

7) Is a Christian, not in name only, but in heart and in life.

8) Has the one design of his life not to do his own will but the will of him that sent him. He has a single eye.

9) Continually presents his soul and body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. All the talents he has received he constantly employs according to the Master's will.

10) Does all that he does to the glory of God. His business and refreshments, as well as his prayers, all serve this great end.

11) Does not let the customs of this world hinder from "running the race that is set before him.' He knows that vices does not lose its nature, though it becomes ever so fashionable.

By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labor to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world from all those whose minds and lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to distinguished at all.”

            (–From Wesley’s “Character of a Methodist,” modified from an article shared by Jamie
               Jenkins in North Georgia United Methodist Conference’s “Monday Morning in North
               Georgia”, January 12, 2009)

Obviously, then, there’s room for many under the umbrella of Methodist Christianity.  Of course, though, the goal was (and still is) not to make or become “good little United Methodists,” but instead to become the very best Christians that we can be.  For Wesley and many others, living out the above-mentioned “Character of a Methodist” is the very best way to do this!

So, after reading and meditating on them all... what kind of Methodist are you?  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

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