Archive: The Character of a Methodist

Part Two

by John Wesley

This concludes the feature which began in the summer [June] issue.

The Methodist knows that every single ability has come from God. So the Methodist gladly dedicates these talents to the Lord. The Methodist with­ holds nothing from God … nothing. Before he became a Christian, the Methodist allowed evil to take control of his body and his mind. Now, having died to the authority of sin, and having risen with Christ to a new and holy life, the Methodist has given himself over to God’s control.

Not only does the Methodist AIM at complete dedication to God, he achieves this! His business, his recreation, his social life all serve this great purpose: “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” The customs of this world don’t prevent the Methodist from full dedication to God. He runs the race of daily life, knowing that God has ordained this as his calling.

The Methodist knows that wickedness is wrong in the sight of God, even though society may consider it perfectly acceptable. The Methodist never forgets that someday, everybody will have to account to God for every thought and every action.

Therefore, the Methodist cannot follow the crowd when the crowd choses to do evil. He cannot devote himself to selfish indulgence. The Methodist can no more be preoccupied with making money than he could swallow red hot embers! or can the Methodist waste money on fancy clothes, or jewelry, which flatter the senses, but do not glorify God at all.

Another mark of a Methodist: he will not take part in any amusement which has the least possibility of causing harm to others. He cannot speak evil of his neighbor any more than the Methodist can lie for God or any man. Love keeps guard over the Methodist’s lips, so he cannot speak evil of anybody. Nor is God’s precious gift of speech wasted with useless, inane chatter which does not help people in some constructive way.

Whatever things are pure and noble, on these the Methodist fixes attention. Also on things that are lovely, just, and of good reputation. Thus, all that the Methodist says or does somehow furthers the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As time permits, the Methodist does good to all, his neighbors and strangers; his friends and enemies. This includes every kind of good. Naturally, the Methodist provides food for the hungry, clothing to the naked. He visits people who are sick and in prison.  But even more important than this, the Methodist labors to do good to the souls of men. According to the ability which God has given him, the Methodist labors to awaken those who have never known God, and therefore sleep the slumber of eternal death. And when men are awakened to God, the Methodist helps them realize that the atoning blood of Jesus has power to cleanse away their sins. The greatest good work a Methodist can do is to help somebody get into right relationship with God. For this is the only way a man can have peace with God.

When the Methodist meets somebody who has not yet found peace with God, the Methodist stirs them up in the hope that he may be set free to do the good works which God intends for every person to do.

The Methodist is willing to spend his time and energies in doing this important work for God. His time and his talents are given as a loving sacrifice to God in order that the people round about him may grow into the fullness of Christ.

These are the principles and practices of Methodism. These are the marks of a true Methodist. By these things alone does the Methodist wish to be distinguished from other men.

Somebody may say, “Why these are only the common, basic principles of Christianity!” This is what Methodism is, nothing more or less. We Methodists refuse to be distinguished from other men, by any other than the common principles of Christianity – the plain, old Christianity that I teach, renouncing and detesting all other marks of distinction. Any person who fits this pattern is a Christian no matter what you call him! It is not a matter of denominational label, but of being inwardly and outwardly conformed to the will of God, as this is revealed in the Bible.

The Christian thinks, speaks, and lives according to the pattern set by Jesus. And his soul is renewed in righteousness and holiness, after God’s own image.

By these marks we Methodists labor to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world; from all whose minds and lives are not ruled according to the Gospel of Christ. But we Methodists do not wish to be distinguished at all from real Christians of any denomination. Like them, we are seeking that perfection of Christ which we have not yet attained. As Jesus said – whoever does the will of the Heavenly Father is our brother, sister, and mother.

And so I beg you, let all true Christians remain united; let us not be divided among ourselves. Is your heart right as my heart is with yours? I ask no further question; give me your hand. For the sake of mere opinions or terms, let us not destroy the work of God.

Do you love God? This is enough. I give you the right hand of fellowship.

If there is any consolation in Christ … any comfort in love … any fellowship in the Spirit … any affection and sympathy, then let us work together in behalf of the Gospel. Let us walk in a way that is worthy of the vocation in which we are called. Let us walk in lowliness and meekness with long-suffering, kindly sparing one another in love, trying always to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. For we remember, always, that there is one body, and one Spirit, one hope to our calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. He is above all things, through all things, and in you as well.”

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