Hearing God’s voice
Vice-President of the Conference 2022/2023 Anthony Boateng says it’s time to be ‘sorely open to God’s Spirit’ and rekindle Wesleyan fire.
Particularly recently and when I was training to become a local preacher, I would often pray in my heart, yearning for revival. I was yearning to comprehend the depth and breadth of God’s power, and to be filled with the fullness of God because I knew deep down the survival of our beloved Church (and the growth of my ministry) depend on it.
You see, to experience revival it is incumbent on us to be open to God’s Spirit. That means as a Church we have to be completely dependent on the sovereignty of God. Only then can churches get lifted out of spiritual indifference and worldliness into earnest desire for Jesus Christ and a renewed commitment to our Methodist calling.
New birth in the Spirit
In John 3:1-21 we get an insight into what it means to be open to God’s Spirit and how one can be born again. Nicodemus had a strong academic knowledge of God but prior to his meeting with Jesus he did not have a personal relationship with God. However he was open to God’s Spirit. He was hungry for God, and this hunger enabled him to persevere until the revelation of Jesus Christ was complete in him.
The ‘new birth’ that Jesus alludes to in John 3:1-21 is the work of God’s Holy Spirit and it requires us to be open to it. Like the weather, the Holy Spirit is unpredictable and challenges us to keep moving forward, irrespective of what we’re faced with. Only one thing is certain: our inner being is slowly and constantly being refined and God is always with us during this time.
Standing up for justice
As we face the cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine, the long-term impact of Covid-19, the new asylum law and the virus known as institutional racism, let us as a Church be open to God’s Spirit.
This is the time for the Church to stand up and show the world why social justice is in the DNA of Methodism. This is the time to stride further with some of the good work we have already made through our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit. Through unity, guided by the Holy Spirit, let us support people who feel marginalised and voiceless. Let’s challenge the status quo and be an agent of change. Let us remind ourselves of the benchmark Christ has set for all society because God is Lord of every society and nation.
No one is inferior and there should be equality in opportunities. There must be no room for tokenism or fear of being silenced. Our values and most importantly our actions must stand up to the judgment of God.
Revival — open to God’s Spirit
I realise that some of us may feel tired or held back by the structure of our Church, with little time to focus on our personal relationship with God. But, friends, through Christ all things are possible. Let us strive to reignite and revive the Wesleyan fire in our everyday life.
This means regular fellowship and prayer groups during the week. We need to revive things that were the bedrock of Methodism such as band and class meetings. We also need strong modern worship and to apply a Methodist Way of Life in a non-prescriptive way. We need to inspire more young people to get into ministry and leadership.
We must be sorely dependent on the Holy Spirit. Let us keep in mind it requires us as a Church to be entirely submissive to God’s will. In Mark 4:26-34 we learn from the parable of the mustard seed that size does not matter, and growth is mysterious and gradual: “first the blade, then the head, then the full grain…”. Therefore friends, even though we may be reduced in numbers, ageing and increasingly under attack from the secular world, I believe God is not done with us yet.
Rather, God is urging us to be attentive to things of the Spirit. God has placed in our hearts the greatest commandment (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart” Matthew 22:34-40). Accept it so it may bear fruit. By uniting as a Church we will make more followers of Jesus Christ. Over the coming year, it is my hope that we as a Church work faithfully alongside one another in love, and are prepared to put our head above the parapet as we thirst to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit.