‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ This statement by Jesus in John’s Gospel meant that the early Christians came to be known as ‘followers of the Way.’ We are given a picture of what that meant as we read in Acts 2:42-47:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
At the end of the month we will be starting a 4 week preaching series on ‘A Methodist Way of Life.’ You will be able to watch these services each Sunday on the Newcastle West YouTube Channel. Based on that first Christian community, in 2000 the Methodist Church developed ‘Our Calling’, which states that as a member of the Methodist Church we are called to worship, learning and caring, service and evangelism. A Methodist Way of life, which was presented to the Methodist conference in 2018, focuses on the 4 areas of ‘Our Calling’. The past President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Roger L Walton is challenging the Church to adopt new commitments that echo John Wesley being inspired by the love of God. In an article in the Connexion magazine, Roger gave this explanation: “The ‘Methodist Way of Life’ is not a detailed list of beliefs, but rather how we seek to live our lives in response to God’s love in Jesus. The commitments left are a work in progress, but aim to set out, in simple terms, what being a Methodist is all about.”
The United Methodist minister, Rev Elaine Heath reminds us: ‘Early Methodism was a holiness movement that evangelised people both inside and outside the Church. To frame it with my definition of evangelism, Methodism was a holiness movement that initiated people into a holy life, revealed in Jesus Christ, anchored in the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, surrendered to the reign of God, for the transformation of the world.’ Wherever John Wesley preached he established classes so that faith could be nurtured. In fact, Wesley wouldn’t preach anywhere where this provision couldn’t be put in place. He felt that without that support, the devil would have too great an opportunity to get a foothold in a believer’s life.
I am excited about the impact ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ might have on the church. As someone who has appreciated being part of a small accountability group, I am hopeful that those who feel led to form a group around this Way of Life, will be transformed themselves and then join with God in the transformation of the world. Even if you don’t feel you want to be part of a small group, I believe that ‘A Methodist Way of Life’ and the accompanying questions are helpful to our Christian journey of transformation.
Your sister in Christ,