Lent 2017

Lenten Reflections: 3 General Rules

The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, lived by three rules. At first glance the rules seem a bit simple.

Ten words… is that it? Because a list of rules of biblical proportions would make me feel more secure. Like I might have some way of measuring whether or not I’m getting it right. Rules checked off inch me closer to becoming a member of the heavenly in-crowd. Oh, if I only had more rules, than relationship would never have to be involved.

John Wesley must have known a person’s tendency to try to measure up. And if he would left well enough alone and only lived by the first two rules, things might have been easier. I could make a mental list of the harm I did… the good I accomplished and at the end of the day I would either be a puddle of sorry on the floor or a proud peacock.

But NO… he had to throw the last one in the mix. I wish I could sit right down with John and ask him, “How DO you stay in love with God?”

I once heard a woman married fifty years respond to the question, “How do you stay married this long.” She smiled and answered, “We’ve just never fallen out of love at the same time.”

But God, He doesn’t fall out of love. Every single action He takes is motivated by His love for us… from the beginning of time until this very moment. So this “staying in love with God” thing is not about God not loving, it’s about me not loving. Slowly, slowly I’m learning faith is completely wrapped up in a loving relationship with Father, Son, Spirit. It has nothing to do with the hours I pray, the Bible verses I have memorized, or the good deeds done.

Paul tells the Corinthians the same thing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-28651A" data-link="(A)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-28651B" data-link="(B)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-28652C" data-link="(C)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>If I give away all I have, and <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-28652D" data-link="(D)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.–I Corinthians 13:1-3

I’m convinced Wesley’s first two rules are near impossible without the last one, and I’m inclined to think he would agree. Maybe one day, when I get where I’m going, I’ll ask him.

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