CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
I have been reading again the Journal of John Wesley.
As the founder of Methodism, he rode all over Britain in the 1700s, preaching wherever a crowd would gather. Some historians say that the social and economic times were as bad in Britain as in France, with a few obscenely rich people lording it over huge numbers of obscenely poor people. Those conditions led to bloody revolution in France. The Methodist movement in Britain, however, gave people hope. Hopeful people do not resort to violent revolution as readily as do desperate and despairing people, and so Britain was spared a violent revolution.
On Oct. 2, 1762, Wesley wrote: “All this week I had endeavoured to confirm those who had been shaken as to the important doctrine of Christian perfection, either by its wild defenders, or wise opposers, who much avail themselves of that wildness.”
It’s necessary to leave aside the doctrine of Christian perfection for the moment. That takes at least two or three books to explain. The point I’d like to make is: more damage can be done to a good cause by its proponents than its opponents if they support it “wildly” rather than wisely.
By “wild,” Wesley did not mean just ranting and raving, but by going beyond reason. I remember hearing Congressman John Brademas tell of the election when he came to office. It was getting down to the wire, and he had a slight lead on the incumbent against whom he was running. Desperate to regain the lead, in “wildness,” the opponent accused Brademas of being unfaithful to his wife. “But that backfired,” Brademas explained, “because I have never been married.”
Do you want to know why young people, and many not so young, are deserting the church, or not considering it in the first place? Because so many “public” Christians are so “wild” in their opposition to those who don’t agree with them. “Wild” Christians do more harm to the cause of Christ than any atheist or hedonist could do.
John Robert McFarland
I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…
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