The Bible teaches us that everything we have from God is given because of God’s great love for us. “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith,” Ephesians 2 reads. “This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of” Ephesians 2:8-9 CEB
United Methodists recognize God’s grace at work throughout our spiritual journeys. John Wesley, the historic founder of the Methodist movement, wrote and preached about the role of God’s grace to prepare us, redeem us, and continually shape us into the people we were created to be. During this time in our world, it is as good a time as any to brush up on the grace we receive and the grace we should be willing to give.
John Wesley, his brother Charles, and others, pursued together what they called “holiness of heart and life”, which Wesley described as “universal love filling the heart, and governing the life.” I love the part about governing the life. Have you considered what governs your life? Does fear govern your life? Does anger and disappointment govern your life? Does approval of others govern your life? The only way those emotions govern your life is in the absence of universal love filling the heart. When love takes up so much space that there is no room left for fear, anger, disappointment and so on. Nothing left but for love to govern your life. We must evict the ugly from our heart to allow universal love to take up residence there.
Wesley teaches us that God’s grace is with us throughout our lives. By grace God prepares us, justifies us, and then continues to grow us as followers of Jesus. We call these ideas the Three Simple Rules. They are short, simple, and powerful when in full context. Do good. (Do good to everyone.) Do no harm. (Intended harm and unintended harm, which requires you to think before you act and accept accountability when you harmed without intention.) And stay in love with God, also stated as “attend upon all the ordinances of God”. These are things like worship, prayer and fasting, those practices that keep you connected with God. I like to describe it as so strong in your relationship with Christ, others cannot tell where you leave off and he begins. Our faith is not meant to be entirely private. It is meant to be lived and shared.
In closing, be good to yourself, give grace to others, and participate fully in God’s ongoing work in our world, in our lives, and the lives of others. May grace govern your life.
With hands to the plow,