On May 24, 1738, John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church made this entry in his private journal, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” This is a powerful statement of conversion from an ordained Anglican Priest. This was a turning point in Wesley’s life and in his ministry. We don’t talk much about personal conversion in the church anymore. Maybe we assume that everyone is converted. Wesley was an ordained Anglican Priest and a practicing Christian. Any yet, he lacked the personal conviction of saving grace. Once that experience was given to him by God, his life and ministry were never the same again. He was free to be authentically who God made him to be and to do what God had given him to do. His conversion led to the great awakening in England that literally saved a nation from the same horrific and bloody revolution that had taken place in France.
As persons who are saved by grace, our lives are never quite the same again either after such an experience. Grace is a free gift of God’s acceptance of us as we are because of God’s love for us. When such awareness comes for us in life, we too, are freed to be the authentic people God has made us to be. Once such an awareness is ours we become obedient to the will and way of God as God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, leads us to do God’s work in the world in the unique way we can according to the gifts God has given us. There is no greater, more wonderfully challenging life and adventure than this life. Once Wesley began to live from such an experience his life and work were never the same again. And so it is with each of us.
As the St. John’s community of faith we are a people who have the shared experience of what I have described above. We stand and work in a long legacy of those who have gone on before us, who have sacrificed and powerfully lived out their own calling and sense of God’s redeeming work in Christ to the world. This experience and work is the foundation of each individual life and certainly the life we share in community together. What are you doing related to such an experience in your own life and calling? Are you bearing the fruit of such an experience and calling? How would anyone know?
This coming Sunday we will be looking at the lives of the early church and their witness to the experience of a risen Lord and the redemptive work he, through the Holy Spirit, was leading them to do and to live. They were obedient to God’s call and claim on their lives. What form and expression is such obedience taking in our lives today? Let’s come together Sunday and explore such a question together.
I hope to see you Sunday as we live into the obedient life God is calling us to lead!
I will see you on the road,
I John 3:1