Stripped image of John Wesley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you believe you are going on to perfection?”
Perfection? What an impossible goal, some of us might think. We are just trying to do the best we can, and we know that we are not anywhere near perfect! How could the question even be asked. We are often encouraging ourselves and others to self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is difficult enough, much less the idea of perfection. What a question!
This is a question that is regularly asked, however. It is asked of those being ordained in the United Methodist Church. It was asked by John Wesley to any who were leadership in the early Methodist movement. United Methodist believe in perfection. Steve Manskar in wesleyanleadership.wordress.com says: Wesley defined perfection as “love [seated] upon the throne which is erected in the inmost soul; namely, love of God and [humankind], which fills the whole heart, and reigns without a rival” (Sermon 92: On Zeal). It is the “holy tempers” formed in the soul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
It is a lofty goal, but we are called to aim high. We are called to self-acceptance, but we are also called to grow in God’s grace. We are always a work in progress. We need transformation. We need to strive towards perfection. If you don’t believe that you are going on to perfection, then where are you going? Are you headed anywhere? Are you just staying where you are?
This week, let us accept that we are not perfect, but we are going onto perfection. We are on a journey. Let us work towards being more fully the people God has created us to be.
John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of Methodism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sometimes we all feel that we need to do it all. We need to be perfect, or at least exceptionally good at everything. This is a lot of pressure to put on ourselves, but we do it. It is at times like these that it helps to think of those who have gone before us who have had struggles. John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement. The Methodist movement includes many denominations including the United Methodist Church. John’s brother, Charles Wesley, wrote many hymns and supported his brother in the founding of the movement. They were great preachers and teachers. Charles Welsey’s hymns are still being sung. John Wesley’s sermons are still read and quoted. They are great leaders of the church.
Yet, both had their struggles. Neither was successful when they came to the colonies. Both left in disgrace. There were problems relating to people. There were relationship conflicts. The founder of my denomination had an epic fail.
Yet, he went on to greatness. None of us are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Yes, we can try to improve our weaknesses, but there are always things that we cannot do as well as others. It is okay for us not to be strong at everything. We must give ourselves permission to have both strengths and weaknesses. We must allow ourselves to celebrate our gifts and graces as well as acknowledge our weaknesses.
When we work from our strengths, we find ourselves able to do great things. When we use our gifts, then we are building up God’s kingdom. Let’s remember that no one is good at all things, even us.
Image via Wikipedia
It is time for us to start setting goals. Some of us have too many goals. We want to do everything. We want to achieve everything. We imagine the perfect life, and the perfect life means getting more and more done. If we just try a little harder, tweak the schedule, make better use of our time management devices, or sleep a little less, then we can do more. So, we set our goals for the things we want to get done. The goals we want to accomplish.
Maybe we need to set a goal of doing nothing. Maybe we need a goal to set aside time for absolutely nothing. Instead of squeezing one more thing into our already harried days, perhaps this year we should schedule in some nothing time. The Bible says to, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, wrote a Covenant prayer. This prayer was a part of the Covenant service that is often held at the beginning of the new year. The prayer ask God in part to, “Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee”.
A little more laying aside time. A little more still time. A little more do nothing time. These moments of inactivity allow God to work within us. These moments of stillness allow our dreams to bubble up to our conscious thought. Doing nothing allows us to experience being without doing. This year, as you set your goals, consider a new goal: do nothing.
photo © 2011 Paul Lowry | more info (via: Wylio)John Wesley is the founder of methodism. Many consider his “Aldersgate Experience” to be the real beginning of the movement. It was three days after the day of pentecost, and he was scheduled to be at Aldersgate. He said in his journal that he went unwillingly. He went. John Wesley stated in his journal that he felt his heart strangely warmed. He realized and completely accepted God’s grace even for him.
Sometimes the greatest moments of growth, transformation, and new life come when we are unwilling. We decide that we are not interested. We say to ourselves that there is no point. We get wrapped up into our wants, needs, and personal preferences. Yet, God has a different plan. God wants to offer us grace. God wants to offer each one of us a heart warming experience when we can be transformed.
In the summer time, many of us experience the summer slump. We become tired, concerned with our own schedules, vacation times, etc. We don’t give time to our spiritual lives. We are unwilling to bend our will to God’s will. In these times of unwillingness, I invite you to remember that refusal may mean that we miss heart warming opportunities. Consider those times when you are unwilling as opportunities to experience grace.