In commemoration of John Wesley’s Birthday.

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Evangelism, Leadership, Life, Me and God, Me and people, The Church

Some might be thinking, “Why are you even writing about Wesley’s day of birth?”
Some others may be thinking “I didn’t know Luis was Arminian!”.
Some others may even be wondering: “Who is John Wesley… and what is Arminian? –I thought Luis was Colombian!!”

Well, first let me say that I am not a Methodist or Wesleyan or any of those (not that there is anything bad at all in being one!) However, there are a few reasons why I find John Wesley, someone I feel identified with.

John Wesley was an English theologian born in June 28, 1703 who dedicated his life to the proclaiming of the Gospel. Some say he horse-rode 250,000 miles, gave away 30,000 pounds, and preached more than 40,000 sermons. His life forged the first great revival and a large movement worldwide. Some of the off-shoots today of his work are: The United Methodist Church (in US, GB and the rest of the world), Wesleyan Church, the Free Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and in some ways, Pentecostalism and parts of the charismatic movement.

But rather than picturing him as this old historical intellectual theologian, please consider these few facts about his life and how much you and he may have in common:

–       Wesley a survivor of death. John Wesley’s father, Samuel Wesley and his wife Susanna Annesley had a total of 19 kids. Only 7 survived. Most readers under 40 years old, and specially those under 25, have to realize that we are survivors of a generation marked with death. Millions and millions of people who were to be in our generation (some estimate 20-50%), didn’t make it, due to abortion, drugs and other issues. We are survivors with a purpose.

–       Wesley and ‘religion’. I was brought up in a society where most people claimed to be Catholic. It didn’t matter whether you went to mass once a week or once a year. It didn’t matter if you were having an affair or getting drunk and beating your wife. There were even paid assassins who killed with a gun in one hand and a little statue of Mary on the other. It was for the most part, just a label. Like Christianity today in United States. One day when John Wesley was 32 years old, he was traveling by sea and a storm came up and broke the mast off the ship. While most ‘Christians’ panicked, the Moravians (a group of Christians who emphasized true repentance, holiness and continued devotion to God) calmly sang hymns and prayed. This experience led Wesley to believe that the Moravians possessed an inner strength which he lacked. A relationship he was yet to discover. This deeply personal religion that the Moravian pietists practiced heavily influenced Wesley’s theology of Methodism.

–       Wesley and organized religion. I believe much of Christianity today has become –even sometimes with good initial motives, about who is in power, the power of influence and how we keep that power (even in small churches). We forget Christianity is about bringing to people the knowledge of the good news of salvation. John Wesley was known for going out of the box and against the traditional and almost-dying-unfruitful religious structures. As early as 36 years old, he was known for making disciples, teaching them the Word of God and sending them out to make more disciples. This even caused him some persecution from the own religious leaders –but he kept going.

–       Wesley’s focus on The Bible. Although well-read for his day, Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture; and the Bible was the sole foundational source of theological or doctrinal development. The centrality of Scripture was so important for Wesley that he called himself “a man of one book”—meaning the Bible. He also contended for the need to rightly couple faith and reason.

–       Wesley and my passion for worship. As I recently stated on a recent blog, sometimes it frustrates me how some of us seem to be more excited about a game, a concert or a won-deal rather than giving thanks to the God who saved us and provides all –including the deal and the money for the game and the concert. Well, Wesley had a similar experience, at age 55. After attending a performance. He said: “I went to the cathedral to hear Mr. Handel’s Messiah. I doubt if that congregation was ever so serious at a sermon as they were during this performance. In many places, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation.”

–       Wesley’s approach to differences. In 1770, at age 67, at the death of George Whitefield, Wesley wrote a memorial sermon which praised Whitefield’s admirable qualities and acknowledged the two men’s differences: “There are many doctrines of a less essential nature … In these we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’ But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials…” Wesley was the first to put the phrase ‘agree to disagree’ in print.

–       Wesley and social issues. John Wesley was reportedly the first to preach for slaves rights. At age 71, he published a pamphlet on slavery, attracting significant opposition. He was NOT about slave rights, welfare or social issues in and of themselves, but he saw them as practical and necessary ways to bring the Gospel to every human being –even those who may not look, dress, have, speak or act like we do.

–       Wesley and the book I’m reading this week. This week, I’ve been reading the book Exponential. One key concept described in the book is the need for development of leadership and witnessing by making apprentices. Interesting enough, John Wesley was known as a pioneer (after Jesus of course) in exactly that area. When Wesley died, his movement had developed 135.000+ members and 541 itinerant preachers (followers made into leaders).

John Wesley was a regular guy with great expectations from a powerful and living God… the same God you and I have access to -today.

  1. Angela says:

    One of your best blogs! Loved it!

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