Day Eight, Wednesday May 27, 2015
“Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your
neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
– Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
If you have occasion to walk between the main entrance of Methodist Hospital and the parking garage, I hope you take some time to read the history of the hospital and the quotations from John Wesley. Beginning in 1899, it took 9 years for Methodist churches from all over the state to raise the funds and build the hospital. What a legacy of loving your neighbor those churches left for us.
One of his quotes says, “I look on all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.” Wesley put this into practice by preaching more than 40,000 sermons outside in fields to people who would never think of entering a church. He didn’t wait for people to come to church, eventually recognizing he had to go where the people were: “I could scarce reconcile myself to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he [Whitefield] set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life till very lately so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church. “
Methodism challenged the status quo of the established churches, and the preachers were persecuted and attacked for the revolutionary methods they used to reach the common people. In spite of the dangers he faced, Wesley continued to preach wherever he was called in order to call the sinners to repentance.
The Whitefield mentioned above was a co-founder of Methodism. George Whitefield preached all over the American colonies in the 1740’s, contributing to the evangelical movement known as the First Great Awakening, which was a precursor to the American Revolution.
Methodism was also at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement. To quote one of Wesley’s tracts against the slave trade: "Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes the vital air; and no human law can deprive him of that right which he derives from the law of nature."
We Methodists have inherited a rich legacy of helping our neighbors in many different ways. We need to tell our story and remain steadfast in continuing that tradition.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Awaken in us a zeal for your commandment to love our neighbors and to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Help us tell our story so we can be effective witnesses for you. Renew a faithful spirit in us so our churches and their ministries can grow and thrive. Let our neighbors see your love and forgiveness for them in all that we do. Please bless us this week and throughout the year and allow us to feel your presence.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen