Wednesday, May 24, is an auspicious day for the Wesleyan movement.
In 1738, John Wesley, the co-founder of the Methodist movement, had an experience in which he said, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” It was on this day that he received, shall we say, confirmation of his New Birth.
You see, up until this time, John had been preaching, for he was an Anglican priest. For him, it was the legality of salvation that worked. You know, the proper ways of baptism, Lord’s supper, prayer. To him, it was the form of worship that counted, yet it brought him no joy.
So, he was invited to a Bible study on Aldersgate Street. Here, instead of a preacher, they had a person reading the preface to a commentary on Romans by none other than Martin Luther.
During the reading, John came to the realization that even his sins had been forgiven, and that he was saved. Up until this time, he had felt a failure. He failed as a missionary in Georgia, he failed to enlighten his brethren in the Anglican church, and he felt he failed God.
But this revelation changed everything. He figured that if Christ could save him and renew him, Christ could save anyone who asked. Thus, the movement that would later be called Methodism would take off with a new fire.
I wonder if we forget this lesson.
How many times do we fail to see Christ’s love for us? How many times do we feel like we have failed Christ? How many times do we feel as if we are beyond redemption?
The truth is no one is beyond the grasp of Christ. No one is beyond forgiveness. Everyone can have a salvational relationship with Christ, they need only ask.
Folks, everyone has self-doubt.
Even we ministers have questions that we ask in the privacy of our prayer rooms. We question our effectiveness and sometimes our vocation. But, rest assured, Christ never leaves. He is always with us and ready to forgive. John’s self-doubt almost caused him to leave the ministry. What an absolute tragedy that would have been.
Instead, John went to a meeting he did not want to go to. He had no intention of learning anything that night. He just wanted to be done with the obligation he had made to a friend. Then here, in the most unexpected place, Christ tells him of His love for him.
If you are having a dry period in your life right now, be assured, you are not abandoned. Christ is with you and will be with you always. Sometimes, we just need to stop and let Christ do the talking.
Aldersgate Day reminds us of doing just that.
Folks, I pray that you will always feel God’s love and presence in your life. But if you don’t, know that Christ is there, just waiting for you to be open to the realization of His love for you.
Shalom my friends.
See you in church.
Rev. Kent Wilfong is the pastor at the United Methodist Church, Doniphan/Neelyville.