I seem to channeling John Wesley these days – I feel so Shirley McClaine-ish. I just seem compelled to bring some Wesleyan/Methodist perspective into these conversations lately. I think our heritage is not one we have to revert to, but we can reclaim it for today – and I’m not sure we do that much.
My example for today has to do with sermon I preached about Spiritual Growth and our need to be engaged daily with God’s Word. I used the image I had heard from another preacher friend – the image of God feeding us spiritually daily just as he fed the Israelites physically each day with manna from heaven. Wesley was a big advocate of daily reading encouraging people to set aside a little time in the morning or at night to read – even if it was just a little.
That was #1 on his list of suggestions for reading the Bible. But I was most intrigued by #6:
It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short.
The reality is that anyone can read the Bible. A person who does not consider God to be real or even considers Jesus a myth can read the Bible. It takes more than the reading to feed your soul – and Wesley knew that. It takes faith to really gain energy and spiritual strength from the Scripture. But Wesley takes it a step further. He says even as we read it is helpful to stop and think about where our hearts and lives are in that moment and in regard to what we’re reading. Transformation doesn’t happen because we read, transformation happens because we ingest, we ponder,we measure our spirit against the truth God shows us.
Wesley’s instructions are helpful but dangerous – if you follow his advice you may just find your life changing. So, if you don’t want life to change, if you don’t want to be stronger as you face challenges, if you don’t want to know God more, if you don’t want to be called to do new things, then don’t follow his advice.
I think it’s a chance worth taking – how about you? Let’s give it a try, what do we have to lose?
Holy high five to you, Mike