While teaching a confirmation class to fourteen 8th graders, a recurrent question arose: “Why do we have to get up so early each Sunday? Why can’t we just stay at home, continue to read the Bible and pray to God, and be considered ‘good’ Christians.” I often relied upon the Three General Rules that John Wesley articulated as being a part of living out a holy life of Christianity: 1) Do no harm; 2) Do good; and 3) Attend upon the ordinances of God. Gathering as a Christian community for worship and partaking in the sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ is a required part of living a Christian life. It’s kind of “the law.” But what impresses me most about these rules is the significant gap between their seemingly simplistic nature and the significant complexity of living them out. How often do we take the time to consider that doing no harm is actually a separate action than doing good? When we consider these as different entities, we must then reflect upon what exactly we might do to prevent harm.
While reading today’s scripture I was particularly struck by verse 13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” The emphasis on the action of doing the law reminds me of Wesley’s rules, because it is not enough simply to follow the law (or the ordinances of God), but living out our faith involves actions apart from the law. Paul is asserting that while the Gentiles don’t have the law as the Jewish people do, “they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts” (v 15) by doing instinctively what the law requires. I wonder how much the Gentiles’ actions followed Wesley’s first two rules. I wonder how many of us instinctively follow these first two rules.
Loving and Gracious God, Thank you for the gifts of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and for inscribing your law upon our hearts. Help us to live out our Christianity in a way that honors you in all we do. Amen.
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