John Wesley and the theological perspective he contributed to the spiritual formation of disciples of Jesus Christ really was profound. The Methodist movement he is credited with founding not only brought holy living back to the forefront of Christian responsibility, it gave practical structure to those seeking to live a life deeply influenced by grace without overlooking the need for believers to be involved in social justice.
In many ways John Wesley was a spiritual genius. He had the amazing ability to digest the unique contributions of several approaches to spiritual formation and fit them together in a manner that benefit those whom he taught and inspired. He quest for his own spiritual perfection produced a strong, scripturally sound, and practical approach to serving God and promoting the Gospel.
My awakening to Wesley has been a journey through “Christian” consumerism, fundamentalism, the pseudo-piety of partisan politics, free church folly, and bureaucracy based program oriented spiritual formation. Awakening to Wesley has been a freeing, uplifting, and spiritually satisfying event. The Wesley quadrilateral (Wesley did not give this approach it’s name) of Scripture, experience, tradition, and reason is such a useful tool for understanding the spiritual quest. Wesley’s views on prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace magnify the blessings God seeks to give us through love. Wesley’s call for disciples to seek perfection in the desire of our heart and soul powerful motivator for developing in the Christian quest.
And then there is the structure of supervision. Everyone in the Methodist church is supervised. There is a realistic understanding of the depravity of humanity and our weaknesses. We need to be subject to one another. This is not a matter of ecclesiastical control but of support and care. To know you are accountable and to have someone who is helping you stay on track is a gift that opens the door to deeper development as a servant of God.
Yes, it has been a joy to awaken to Wesley. It is good to learn more about this man who has given us all so much to help us draw closer to our Lord and to have a stronger base from which to seek to fulfill God’s purpose for us.