I wonder what rules you choose to live by? It may seem a strange question, but we all tend to make our own rules for how we live. Some of us live by a rule which says be respectful to everyone we meet. Other’s have a rule about not eating cake or biscuits between meals. Our personal rules cover everything from the clothes we wear, to our use of money. We all have these rules to live by, whether we are aware of them or not.
In the Methodist Church the idea of having a ‘rule of life’ or developing a ‘rule for daily living’ has a long history. In 1743 John and Charles Wesley gave rules to Christians in the early Methodist Societies that were being formed. This early Methodist rule can be summarised as follows:
1. Do no harm by avoiding evil of every kind; especially that which is most generally practiced.
2. Do good as often as you can to as many as you can.
3. Practice the means of grace:
* Private and family prayer.
* Regular worship attendance.
* Bible reading and study.
* The Lord’s Supper.
* Fasting or Abstinence.
At this point we should mention that the word ‘rule’ is often misunderstood. We tend to associate it with the word ‘don’t’ and see rules as very restrictive of freedom. But this is the wrong way to look at it. A good rule for daily living actually enhances our freedom, it doesn’t restrict it. In fact the word ‘rule’ is more positively understood in the sense of something we measure up to, rather than as something that beats us down.
Which brings us neatly to ‘A Methodist Way of Life’. This is a rule or ideal for Christian living which has been developed over the last few years. In many ways it is simply a modernisation, or re-invention, of what the Wesley brothers published 280 years ago. At its heart is a personal ethos that helps us to say, ‘yes’ to God as revealed in Jesus Christ.
In following this rule we choose to live the Jesus way. The rule can be summarised in 12 headings, split into 4 sections:
As far as we are able, with God’s help:
• We will pray daily.
• We will worship with others regularly.
• We will look and listen for God in Scripture, and the world.
Learning and Caring:
• We will care for ourselves and those around us.
• We will learn more about our faith.
• We will practice hospitality and generosity.
• We will help people in our communities and beyond.
• We will care for creation and all God’s gifts.
• We will challenge injustice.
• We will speak of the love of God.
• We will live in a way that draws others to Jesus.
• We will share our faith with others.
I hope you may find ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ helpful. Some of the headings need thought and conversation with others about how to apply them. You can find out more on our national website www.methodist.org.uk I would also be willing to do an introductory session for your Church.
Yours in Christ,
Revd. David Godfrey