How do you preach funeral sermons?
Wesley was well aware of the true spiritual power that could accompany the Christian life. Yet he also believed that the Spirit who conveyed that power through God’s grace always acted in ways that could be understood, exactly because the Spirit’s work would conform to the witness of the Word.
The significance of this dynamic view of God’s grace, as present and active at every stage of the moral life, cannot be overestimated. Whether we are responding in love to our neighbor or whether we are responding in love to God, it is the power of God’s grace that enables the thought, word, or action itself.
It’s one thing to affirm the need for prayer, but it’s quite another to know what that looks like in practical life. We all follow routines and patterns in our lives — but few of us truly set those routines by our commitment to spiritual disciplines. We don’t live in a world very conducive to that sort of life, and it’s not clear that the church does a good job of teaching it.
It’s one thing to affirm the need for prayer, but it’s quite another to know what that looks like in practical life. We don’t live in a world very conducive to that sort of life, and it’s not clear that the church does a good job of teaching it. So here I’d like to offer a pattern for prayer that can help any Christian begin to build a rhythm of prayer into daily life.
The similarity between the virtues and sanctification becomes especially clear when we grasp the connection between holiness and happiness. Holiness is a synonym for sanctification, which in the Wesleyan sense is seen as that state whereby our character comes to be defined by holy love.
Discipleship is not about techniques and gimmicks. It doesn’t happen HotPocket-quick. It is about being formed in a way of life over the course of time, and with a deep immersion into the practices of the Christian faith. We’ll find transformation in that process, too, and it will reveal within us something we’d never dream of otherwise.
Whereas life in the world makes us react to others with a hard and self-centered temper, the forgiveness we receive through Christ teaches us a better way. Knowing mercy, we are made merciful. Having been forgiven, we learn to forgive. And then we are welcomed into the company of Jesus’ true friends, where we commence “steadily walking in all his ways, [and] doing his will from the heart.” This is the power of forgiveness—the power that will save us and the power that will ultimately transform this world.
Wesleyan teaching affirms that all aspects of salvation come by the gift of God’s grace. Because grace conveys power to us, though, it gives us the ability—the freedom—to join in the very work God is doing for us.
I’m always encouraged when pastors and laypeople express an interest in finding out more about our tradition. Ultimately however, if we want not only to learn about Wesley but also to become Wesleyan, we should take John Wesley’s approach to the Christian life seriously. It isn’t just about becoming familiar with a fascinating figure in church history. It is about letting that figure serve as a guide to point us toward Jesus Christ and the salvation that he wants to give us.