In 1742 John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, published a short pamphlet which was intended to explain to early Methodists, as well to the larger population, just who “Methodists” were (or really) hoped to be. In the pamphlet, Wesley outlined at least eleven (11) distinctive characteristics of the Methodists in his day. Some would say that Wesley offers as many as thirty-seven (37). Maybe you remember that the name, “Methodists” was not so much Wesley’s invention as a derogatory term hoisted on Wesley and the others who were seeking to be faithful to Christ in every aspect of their lives. As we say in the south, the derogatory term “stuck,” whether the eleven characteristics have remains to be manifest in our own day-to-day lives. Each of us can grade our own papers.
I’d like to highlight just one. According to John Wesley, a Methodist, loves the Lord their God with all their soul, might and strength, and loves brothers/sisters as self. By naming the first mark of a disciple to be a person who loves God, Wesley is inviting us to step into the stream of scripture and tradition; to join with the first followers and the subsequent saints who have made the love of God their heart’s desire, a desire made possible because we are made in the image of God; that is, created with the desire and the capacity to receive and give life.
I’d like to invite us to go deeper with these “marks”. In fact there are series available to help us consider some of the unique characteristics and practices of United Methodist Christians today. Why not utilize these in a small group, or Sunday School class, a UMW Circle or United Methodist Men’s Fellowship ? I hope you’ll take a closer look at these resources and find ways to utilize them. These are a great way to be in touch with our spiritual roots.
For a contemporary animated glimpse of Methodism, (with a little humor to boot ) watch this:
Still In ONE Peace,
Jon (the Methodist)
If you would like to view past editions of How Sweet the Sound, follow this link: https://sounddistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/