A Methodist Way of Life asks the questions ‘How have you practised generosity since we last met?’
John Wesley’s life provides many illustrations of a Christian Way of Life which is worked out in practice in a spirit of generosity. It is important to add, though, that Methodism began but did not end with Wesley.
There are many stories from the subsequent history of Methodism to be told. A century after the Wesleyan Revival, Hugh Price Hughes challenged a movement which he saw was in danger of growing cold in its love for God and the world. In addressing Methodists of his time Hughes looked to the example of Jesus who sat the crowds down and gave them food to eat: “It will be impossible for us to evangelise the starving poor so long as they continue in a starving condition.” Hughes saw such work as an integral part of his mission with a full commitment to the implementation of what he called ‘Social Christianity’.
The concern with social justice expresses a vital part element xof Wesleyan theology and spirituality: God’s grace not only saves from sin; it also sanctifies and equips Christians for service.
Holiness in the Wesleyan tradition is manifest in active engagement with the world in mission which seeks to make known the generous love of God in words and in action. The Church is called to be a community bound together in the love which comes from the sanctifying grace of God worked out in the personal and communal lives of God’s people. This is not a description of the Church as it always is, but of the Church as it is called to be: a community not of the self-satisfied saved but of people open to the working of the generous grace of God, and expressing it in a way that transforms the society of which they are part through the work of the generous Spirit of God within, amongst and through them.
In simple terms it can be found in answering the gospel question who is my neighbour?
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second (Commandment) is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30,31)
Lord, you have said that to truly love you then I must also love my neighbour, which can be difficult when we disagree or lifestyles clash. Yet in overcoming those difficulties it is possible to see the miracle that you love someone like me. Teach us to love, Lord, as you have loved us that this world might be a better neighbourhood in which to live and share. Amen