I have been thinking a lot lately about Methodism. What made Methodism so attractive? Why did so many people in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries join the Methodist movement? What did Methodists say that people found compelling? What, if anything, constituted the heart of the Methodist message? I believe these questions can be answered in one word: transformation.
The challenge for the disciples was to be the bridge for someone else to experience justice. When Jesus called the disciples, he didn’t send them out in search of instant conversions. He gave them an example of living before telling. Doing before speaking. Go. Make. Baptize. And teach. This is one way in which Jesus was the incarnation of God. His life was a demonstration of God’s promises given to a chosen people on behalf of every nation. Use words to explain not promise, because God has already made the promise that matters.
Is anything too supernatural? Too mystical? Too great for God to do? Nope. Is it too hard for him to bend the laws of nature? Nope. He wrote them. You know what? You, too, have continual reminders in your life of not underestimating God. We have those reminders, items large and small, global and personal, to urge us not to underestimate God. To celebrate the ways in which he has the last laugh.
It’s not easy to hold yourself in readiness. You have to be alert, your entire body engaged and prepared to move. You have to be focused, intent on watching for the necessary sign. You have to be willing to act, following the signal the moment it arrives.
The truth is this: every Christian – regardless of our stage in faith – is in need of discipleship! And here is another important thing: I am not just referring to an 8-week class or a long term study. Discipleship, attending to your relationship with God, is more than a class – it is a way of life!
The conclusions reached in God’s Love through the Spirit, particularly concerning an understanding of love both within God’s own life and in Christian participation in God by grace, challenge the claim that Western theology suffers from a pneumatological deficiency, and represent a significant contribution to the study of Aquinas and of Wesley, to ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Methodists (and Protestants more broadly), and to the retrieval and development of a genuinely constructive pneumatology.