You will know the story of the live frog slowly cooked in a saucepan. I can hardly tell how high the worldly temperature has become in own life and I am becoming accustomed to the same worldliness in church and community around me.
So, it has been a revelation to read how the Lord not only sees when things are bad but can turn them around in spectacular style – as He did in the days of John Wesley (1703-1791).
JW Bready’s book England before and after Wesley breathes with spiritual fire, and as I was reading of the transformation in Wesley’s day, I found myself moved to pray, “Lord do it again!”.
1. The England before Wesley was arrogant. Consider this writer in 1727 that “the miracles of Jesus were foolish, trivial, contradictory, absurd, unworthy of a divinely appointed teacher and characteristic rather of a sorcerer” (P.35)).
2. The church was largely dead and dark. Men went into ministry for security and ease seeking positions that led to cathedrals and palaces, with nothing to say but pious platitudes.
3. “It was the England of the slave-trader, the kidnapper and the smuggler …the England of the gin-shops, sodden ignorance and incredible child neglect …the England of beast sports, mad gambling and parading wantonness. It was the England of corrupt politics and soulless religion” (P.189).
4.John Wesley was religious and zealous before he was converted. He was a missionary in America long before he came to see the simple gospel for himself at the age of 35. After that he preached all over England until he died at the age of 88.
5. “His intrepid courage, his transparent sincerity …his directness and dignity of appeal went straight to the hearts …and vast throngs of workers removed their hats and stood in wrapt, reverent attention as he spoke to their souls of the eternal realities of earth and heaven …mob leaders with clubs raised looked in his face and retired in shame …some to find their souls and become leaders in the Cause” (P.135-136).
6. Wesley cut through hypocrisy and empty talk. He wanted sermons that produced change not respectability. Nor would he accept that a person was converted if they did not throw themselves into the church. “Christianity is a social religion and to turn it into a solitary religion is to destroy it” (P.202).
7. He saw no hope for people without Christ and no hope for a better world without converted people …”to reconstruct society without the redemption of the individual is unthinkable” (P.203).
8. His special genius was organisation – teams of preachers, classes for growth, annual conferences, poor relief, loan societies, pamphlets and magazines – all encouraging education, singing (think Charles Wesley) missionary zeal and social transformation.
9. He divided his day into three parts – 8 hours for sleeping and eating, 8 hours for learning, reading and prayer, 8 hours for preaching and being with people.
10. He saw what mattered with uncommon clarity “the King has a blanket of ermine around his shoulders …a huge heap of borrowed hair (wig) and some gold and glittering stones on his head …what a bauble is human greatness” (P.260).
See what God can do – Lord revive us again!
Yours in fellowship,