Monday 25 May 2015

Bible Book:

‘Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’ (v. 5)

Romans 5:1-11 Monday 25 May 2015

Psalm: Psalm 130


Today the Methodist Church celebrates Wesley Day (at least, thisis normally 24 May, but Pentecost takes precedence). Thisparticular year there is a happy coincidence between rejoicing inthe creation of the Church as a whole, and commemorating the'conversions' of the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, whichsparked the beginning of the Methodist movement.

This passage is that crucial one for much Reformation preaching,on justification by faith alone. The story goes that on the evening of 24 May 1738,John Wesley went "very unwillingly" to hear someone read Luther'sPreface to the Epistle to the Romans: "About a quarter before nine,while he was describing the change which God works in the heartthrough faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt Idid trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation…" Some days earlierhis brother Charles had experienced something similar, and the restis history.

We use the word 'conversion' about what happened to John andCharles, but the event was not quite like the classic Damascus roadexperience of Paul (Acts 9:1-19). The Wesley brothers were notopposed to the Church, or even lukewarm in their Christianity. Theywere ordained, and had already crossed continents hoping to spreadthe gospel (good news of Jesus) - even though they felt theirefforts had enjoyed small success. There was no dramatic change inthe direction of their lives, except that they seem to have openedthemselves to incomparably more power and conviction than they hadgenerated on their own. These were conversions of people alreadysteeped in church culture, now fired up by the Spirit of God.

And so I think there is hope for many of us who perhaps findchurchgoing a bit of a disappointment, or who have become ratherroutine or desultory about our prayer life, neither of which mayhave a big impact on the way we lead our lives. Even if we approachthe disciplines of our faith 'very unwillingly', there is a chancethat the Spirit can touch our stressed and multi-tasking hearts,and finally set them on fire.

To Ponder

  • Think about a time when you did something 'very unwillingly'and then discovered it was life-changing. What happened next?
  • How far do you expect reading the Bible or spending time inprayer to change the way you do things or relate to people?
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