A Methodist Way of Life - Commitment 5: We will learn more about our faith
by Rev Jacky Quarmby 3 June 2022
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church always had a restless desire to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ, to grow and mature in the faith. As a student at Oxford, he used to meet with his brother Charles and other students to study the scriptures and pray together. Later as a preacher, when John Wesley was travelling far and wide on horseback, he would let the reins lay loose on the horse’s neck and use the time to read the Bible or books on philosophy or poetry. He was rarely thrown off his horse, but one day the horse he was riding simply lay down and died, which perhaps wasn’t surprising when you consider that during his lifetime, Wesley traveled 225,000 miles on horseback and preached forty thousand sermons.
John Wesley emphasized faith as a journey and he saw worship, prayer, Bible study, fellowship and service, as the means by which each believer was helped to grow in their faith. To this end, wherever Wesley went he established Methodist societies for the new believers, believing that it was through the love and care of small groups that many people experienced an intense personal encounter of faith, grew in their relationship with God and were motivated to get involved in social and community action.
John Wesley once said that “there is no holiness but social holiness”, by which he meant that true religion can never be solitary. As his brother Charles put it in one of his hymns:
“He bids us build each other up;
and, gathered into one,
to our high calling’s glorious hope
we hand in hand go on.”
John Wesley was an enthusiastic evangelist, who always proclaimed the faith with intellectual integrity. Throughout his life, he kept on learning and was never content with simplistic answers to fundamental and complex life questions.
Likewise, it is important that we keep on learning and growing in our faith, so that we become Christians who know what we believe and have the confidence to share what we have discovered and its relevance to the challenges and questions we face in contemporary life. John Wesley described himself as a ‘man of one book’. We too need to take the Bible seriously and interpret it in the light of experience, reason and tradition. Methodist history reminds us that this lifelong journey of learning and discovery is not solitary, but is best undertaken in fellowship with others, in groups where our faith can be deepened and we are able to grapple together with the questions of life.
Song: Thanks for friends who keep on loving
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you call us together,
with our different gifts, our different ideas, our different experiences
to share what makes us special,
to build each other up and to serve each other in love.
You call us together,
knowing that we need all parts of the body,
if we are to grow in faith and to be whole.
You call us together,
to sing, to pray, to listen, to speak, to be challenged
so that we can go out and serve.
Loving God, may we hear your call.