Good morning from Cleburne, TX! I am so glad to be writing you today and continuing our blog series on “A Practical Look at the Wesleyan Distinctive Emphases.” Let’s take a look at what the Book of Discipline says about Faith and Good Works.
We see God’s grace and human activity working together in the relationship of faith and good works. God’s grace calls forth human response and discipline. Faith is the only response essential for salvation. However, the General Rules remind us that salvation evidences itself in good works. For Wesley, even repentance should be accompanied by “fruits meet for repentance,” or works of piety and mercy.
Both faith and good works belong within an all-encompassing theology of grace, since they stem from God’s gracious love “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
Both faith and good works belong within an all-encompassing theology of grace since they stem from God.
When we put our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ something happens to us, we begin to see as Christ sees and love as Christ loves and begin to understand what it means that we are made in God’s likeness. Anybody can have an emotional conversion in a worship service and that is great, but Wesley points us to a larger, deeper truth. What did that moment compel you to do?
I am reminded of the passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul says that the Love of Christ compels us. This is Paul way of saying that when we commit to live our lives for Christ there is this power that compels us to do good. Last night at our weekly Wednesday Night Live! gathering we continued a sermon series on the 3 Simple Rules. Last night was about doing good and why as disciples this is an important practice for us to be and do. One of the most powerful things that God has taught me about this is in three simple words and you can use these words at any moment with your students because they are powerful. No only that they help set a culture for your youth ministry.
Be who you are.
See what you have.
Do what matters to God.
The truth is that God doesn’t ask you to change before you begin a life in Christ, he accepts you warts and all and perfects us with His perfect love by sanctifying us moment by moment. A part of our faith is the understanding that we are accepted by God and that we are created in His likeness, that is a powerful image to give our students. That there is nothing wrong with them and no matter what anybody says who they are is cemented in Christ’s love and grace. That’s who we are. We are in Christ. Faith starts with that recognition and our need for Him.
Many of us think that we need to have certifications, degrees, experience before we will be sought as someone that has something to offer to the world. That is the culture in which we live at times. A lot of our students really don’t feel that they have a lot to offer in goodness to this world and that is just so sad and so wrong. John Wesley said many times that Christian Perfection was defined as someone who God’s love had shed abroad their heart, meaning that anybody who deeply and vibrantly loves God. Our students need to understand that God’s love is greatest gift that they can offer to anyone. You don’t need certifications, degrees, or leadership experience to offer that. So we are in Christ, and we offer Christ.
Finally the third part is really what today’s post is about, Do what matters to God. It really is quite simple. Our identity is in Christ, we offer Christ, and then we do things in our lives big and small that shine the light on Christ and not ourselves. This is definitely an attitude that reflects leadership type thing, what you do as a youth minister is what your students will do. We are not going to do it perfectly all the time, but the desire should be there to do good in all that we do in ministry and in life.
This culture and teaching is all set with three simple words. Be, See, Do. Be who you are in Christ, See what you have to offer from Christ, and Do what matters to Christ! Let’s always remember that Faith and Good Works are not either/or, but they must always be both/and. They are linked together in our theology of grace.
Grace and Peace be with you always!
Bradley W. Alexander