We have a God of abundance, he is not skimpy in giving blessings to us. He is generous and abundant.
Now for me blessings are the tools given by God in order that I can be steadfast in the storm with his help and guidance. Wesley goes at it from a different angle.
He begins with the rituals of the church, specifically the sacrament of Holy Communion. He begins at the beginning of Christianity, when believers lived together with a common purse. He often comes back to this model of living and I concur with him that it is the ideal. When streetpastors go out on a Saturday night there is a core group praying for them and praying for the people they meet. When a remnant, or core group gets together in fellowship, great things can be done for his glory. The people in the New Testament, the early church were blessed and they blessed others and because they blessed other they were blessed more and the more they reached out to other.
But people like hierarchy, they like power, human power and the church became a monstrous edifice mirroring the world, it was not set aside and blessed. It was grunt work, a struggle, weighed down by the centuries of ritual. The reformation blew new life into old Christians. It shook up the world first in Europe and then spread. It threw away the pomp and ceremony and became simple again, referring back to the early church. Different factions grew up into different denominations of which Methodism is one.
There are things done in a Methodist church that are not done elsewhere and likewise there are things of other churches not done in the Methodist church. BUT…
God’s Blessings for us Has Always Come Through Faith in Christ
It is not about bricks and mortar church, it is about the body of Christ church. People. So denominations don’t mean squat.
The church now and in the past has mistaken the means for the end. Mistaking outward performance of ritual rather than seeking the truth in the renewal of our lives in the image of Christ.
It is all about Jesus. Not you. Not me.
Whatever rituals we go through from ceremonial footwashing, to raising our hands when we sing. They don’t mean anything if it is a habit alone, or ritual, or because everyone else is doing it, we have to be free in the Spirit to learn the way God wants us to worship him, it may be the same way as the person next to us but it might be different. My balance is impaired, I cannot clap in time to music, watching me dance is painful, a mere shuffle at the edge of a dance floor and then in my kitchen as I scrub my floor my toes are tapping in time to imagined music in my head, I stop to clap, I stand to jump up and down, I fall on my knees and cry out to the Lord, thanking him for immeasurable blessings in my life, I count some but there are too many to mention.
Reading the bible and understanding how those ancient words can apply to our lives – that is a gift of God’s grace
Praying, communicating with the Living God – that is a gift of the grace of God
Baptism by the Holy Spirit – that is a gift of God’s grace
Holy Communion – that is a gift of the grace of God
If we are ritualistic or habit forming in our worship then we are not free to change, to move as the Spirit wills us.
We place our trust in the Lord not in the ceremonies. We take part in the ceremonies to remember what Christ has done for us, that it is his blood that was shed to free us from the slavery of sin.
In Christian circles Methodists are seen as people who do. We seem to be seeking salvation through good works, but the outside does not see what motivates us. We do not do good works to outweigh our sin on the eternal scales of justice.
We do good works as a response to the change that has taken place in our lives, we give, we feed, we visit, we live simple lives as a response to the immeasurable love of God.
A person who has been convicted by the Holy Spirit so they become an unwilling sinner sitting under the law, suddenly needs to find a church, suddenly needs to begin studying the bible, suddenly begins to hear more and seek more and read more and pray more until they come to the realisation, possibly through the taking part in the Lord’s supper, they are using all the means of grace, until they fall on the ground before the Lord and give their lives to the Lord, they are then living in a state of grace.
Let our song forever be of the lovingkindness of the Lord