One of the byproducts of the ecumenical movement is that the Methodist church starts to find that it is no different to many other churches. But if it is not different then why should we bother to keep it going. If the only difference is that our ancestors were Methodists then it’s high time we amalgamated with the church we split from.
John Wesley once wrote a booklet on the character of a Methodist and I’d like to suggest that this is still relevant to us today:
Because I didn’t fancy wading through all the stuff he said every time I want to think about this subject I condensed his thinking into some bullet points and thought s0meone might find it good to read:
- Methodists do not always think the same (Wesley calls it having a particular set of notions). Of course Methodists are Christians and so believe the basics of Christianity as found in the bible but apart from that Methodists do not hold particular Christian beliefs.
- We prefer to use plain and ordinary words when we speak about God – the only exceptions being to use biblical words when speaking about biblical things.
- We are not distinguished by actions or customs. We do not abstain from anything that is not expressly prohibited by God.
- We don’t live out our faith based on one part of the gospel message but instead on the whole. Salvation is about faith and the living out of that faith and not just a single act of being saved (important though this is).
- A Methodist is one who loves God: heart, soul, mind and strength. God is the joy of the heart and the desire of the soul.
- A Methodist finds happiness in God. They are grateful for God’s salvation and enjoy God’s presence within them. [I believe, from what he wrote, that Wesley meant this to mean happiness as an emotion and not just a deep down satisfaction].
- A Methodist has learned to be content in all situations and to trust God during any trials they might face. To accept the will of God.
- A Methodist prays without ceasing and their heart is always with God – they will not allow anything to stop them in this (not: work, hobbies, church, other people, etc.).
- A Methodist is pure in heart – or at least is being changed by God so they can be pure in heart.
- A Methodist’s one desire is to do the will of God.
- A Methodist is not content with keeping most of God’s laws but strives to keep them all.
- A Methodist uses all the talents they have been given in the service of God.
- A Methodist does all to the glory of God.
- A Methodist understands that something being fashionable doesn’t make it good in the eyes of God. If it was wrong yesterday then it is wrong today – what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter. This extends to: the way they dress, they way they think, what they say, and the language they use to say it
- A Methodist seeks to do good wherever they can. They help people physically but should also help spiritually. This is done in the service of God and in the hope that through that service those they help will also come to love and serve God.