The following is the text from my bulletin insert. I am designing a series of weekly inserts to help me better explain the Wesleyan Way of Discipleship. You can download a pdf of this insert at the end of blog.
This week, you are encouraged to ask a church member the following:
What are you doing to become holy in this life?
This week I want to continue the explanation of Acts of Piety. According to the Wikipedia article “Works of Piety”: “John Wesley insisted that the Works of Piety were important because they "further ensconced believers in a spiritual world of conflict in which humans needed to pursue holiness with the same vigor with which they sought their justification.””
We don’t often think that we are in a spiritual world. We are too easily caught up with the reality of this physical world in which we live. However, it is incumbent upon us to not only acknowledge the spiritual aspect of our existence, but to vigorously engage it. For Wesley, this was a daily-minute by minute kind of encounter. For the people called Methodist, there was the assumption that once one was justified, then he or she was then moving on to perfection (i.e. sanctification). For Wesley, this was done through the pursuit of holiness and a holy living in this world. The way in which this sanctification could happen was through the transforming of our souls and spirits that occurred through acts of piety.
In other words, as we read the Bible, we are transformed by allowing God to speak to us through the Word. As we engage in prayer, we allow ourselves to come closer to God and enter into that intimate conversation that we need between us and our creator. As we partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion, we allow God’s grace to flow into our lives and transform us more an more into God’s image. As we fast, we learn to deny our earthly desires and open ourselves to God’s heavenly presence. As we engage in Christian community and come together to worship and to fellowship with one another, then we learn to be more and more at home in each other’s presence so that we are, in effect, practicing for that day we all gather as the Bride of Christ in heaven.
Acts of Piety seek to bring us closer to God and, as we come closer to God, we find that God is able change us and transform us more and more into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. This is what the process of discipleship is all about. We must learn to put aside our own desires and replace them with God’s desires for our lives. We cannot do this if we do not engage in activities that allow God the opportunity to change us.
So. Practicing Acts of Piety is something that is not optional for the Christian. In the quote at the beginning of this article, Wesley asserts that we need to pursue holiness in our lives in just as strong a manner as we pursued salvation.
Are you glad that you have been saved? If so, are you equally striving to now become Holy?
I am just a simple United Methodist pastor. I am an elder in the Holston Annual Conference. This blog is my attempt to share the insights that I have gathered from John Wesley's writings and from others more knowledgable than myself in regards to Wesley. I am not a scholar. Perhaps you could best think of me as a practical theologian.