Are You Seeking Where Christ Is?


"O my God..let it be the one business of my life to glorify thee, by every thought of my heart, by every word of my tongue, by every work of my hand; by professing thy truth even unto death, if it should please thee to call me to it; and by engaging all men, as far as in me lies, to glorify and love thee. Let me lie down with holy thoughts of thee and when I awake let me be possest with thee."
                                   -John Wesley from 'A Collection of Prayers for a Family'

In studying spiritual formation, I have been finding more and more gems of John Wesley such as this one. In both his person and his practice, Wesley was more than "practical theologian," "Oxford don," or "the little preacher." He was a Christian who sought daily and with every moment to be in communion with God.  I read this prayer for the first time as prepared for sleep last night.  It has been with me all this day. 

Look at your life.  Is it, in fact and in substance, different from the world?  What troubles you most in your life and heart?  Where do you find your thoughts lingering most often?  These are the very real questions of the season of Lent in the life of the Church.  I would argue, though, these are the very questions which the follower of Jesus should be asking of ourselves if we are to be about spiritual journey.

It is this reorientation which Paul speaks of when he writes to the Colossian church, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:1-3, ESV)."  John Wesley comments further stating  "...your real, spiritual life is hid from the world, and laid up in God, with Christ - Who hath merited, promised, prepared it for us, and gives us the earnest and foretaste of it in our hearts  (Notes on the New Testament)."

Do you experience a longing for the things of Christ or does the world maintain a stronger hold, drawing you back again and again?  The "earnest and foretaste" which Wesley speaks of, are a grace given that we might pursue the way of Christ Jesus.  The practices of the spiritual life are available so we might receive more of this grace, a growing "earnest and foretaste" of being "where Christ is" with each day.

We have no problem with justifying the time to drive to the mall for a "need," attracted by the "foretaste" of the latest commercial or e-mail from Abercrombie.  How "earnest" are you for the next Apple or product on the market?  What thoughts do you lie down with each night and what thoughts capture you in the morning?  

Some may ask, "Why Wesley?"  And I ask, "Why another?"  The Character of a Methodist is as clearly and resoundingly a Christian way of holiness as other orthodox practices.  Were we to promote and practice ourselves, in our own personal life, this same practice and call to holiness of heart and life, I don't know if we'd come to full agreement, but I suspect we would be a church and clergy, more "in Christ" than infatuated with being liked by the world.



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