Methodism – I find it fascinating to read about the history of our denomination and how it has morphed and expanded since the mid-1700’s. From theological breadth, to practice, polity, and even worship we have become a wide tent. But one thing I hope remains consistent – the way of salvation.
I have been reading several different books for our message series “Why Methodism?” I am reminded again of our heritage and interpretation of God’s mighty acts of salvation through Jesus Christ. For a person who grew up in a conservative, evangelical tradition I am very familiar with the phrase “God’s plan of salvation.” Donald Haynes and others reminded me that the term “plan” has a very specific understanding, especially in our corporate structured world. A plan is something that is devised, it is executed, a strategy is followed until the end objective is achieved.
If my memory serves me correctly, Bill Hybels asked a question in his book “Holy Discontent” – something to the effect that (and I am paraphrasing) if the goal of God’s work is the salvation of my soul, then why doesn’t God ship us off to heaven the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior? Now that’s a good question!
Why doesn’t it happen that way? Isn’t that the objective of God’s plan of salvation? The reason it doesn’t happen this way is because we are invited to something more than the moment of salvation – we are invited to a journey. The term “way” implies that very thing. The way of salvation begins with being made right in God’s eyes through faith in Jesus Christ (justification) AND to become a fully committed disciple of Jesus Christ (sanctification) who emulates his very words and actions in everything that we do.
I firmly believe that this is our task as a Methodist faith community. That we should be engaging people in our local community so that they might experience the way of salvation for themselves. God’s love is for everyone which is expressed in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV)
Readers – I am called to proclaim the Gospel of God’s way of salvation through Jesus Christ to every person I come in contact with. I am committed to building new relationships with people in our local community so that God’s love for them might ooze out of me and to them. The way of salvation is not limited to just your experience or my experience – a part of the journey is how it radiates and influences the people around you – and that happens not just in your actions but also in your conversation.
What will it take for North Star to reach 300 adults and 100+ kids in worship by the beginning of 2014? All of us in conversation with people who are not participating in a local faith community. So let’s talk up Jesus – let’s give him a shout out to our neighbors, friends, and community. Let’s invite others to join us on this journey – the way of salvation.