By Pastor Gary Peterson
On Sunday, January 28th, I preached a message on “Authority Versus Law” which was based on Mark 1:21-28. I have just a little different take on that message when it concerns rules which we live by. John Wesley, our founder, preached a number of sermons on how we are to live our life and how we determine what is right and what is wrong.
There is a very simple book written by Bishop Reuben Job called “Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living.” Let me list the three rules and then talk about how they should affect you and me as we live out our life in Jesus Christ our Redeemer.
Rule number one: do no harm. Rule number two: do good. And rule number three: stay in love with God. Some of us may know rule number three as John Wesley would have said it in the language of his time, “Attend to all the ordinances of God”. Three very simple rules or ideas that, when we look at them, each can help define how we are to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.
Rule number one, do no harm. In doing no harm we show others the evidence that we desire an eternal life through salvation given to us by Jesus Christ. By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced as John Wesley would preach, means don’t take God’s name in vain, or the Lord’s day by using spiritualist liquors in excess, by fighting, quarreling, bragging, returning evil for evil or buying and selling where we take advantage of someone else. These examples fall into three categories: first, do no harm to yourself. Secondly do no harm to others which would also include God’s creation and participating in activities or organizations that can cause harm to others. The third category of John Wesley’s examples is this: I will do no harm to God. John Wesley believed that we can do things that harm God. His examples included taking God’s name in vain and not honoring God with the day of Sabbath, our Sunday.
Rule number two, do good. Doing good shows we want to do things that help lift up others and ourselves. By feeding ourselves, clothing ourselves and our sisters and brothers we do good. We also do good when we participate in not only church activities but other community activities where we extend love to those around us. We do good when we are a productive person in our society and in our community, which means when we go to work or volunteer at an agency we give of ourselves so that others may benefit.
Rule number three, stay in love with God means we attend public worship at our churches and other times when we come together to lift up God’s name. When we read Scripture and share the Word with others, we share God. When we take communion, when we pray and when we discipline ourselves such as fasting or abstinence we recognize that the Holy Spirit is watching over our souls and we have a friendship with God.
These general rules that we accept as Wesleyans, make our lives better as Christians. They help us as we make decisions for our lives. It keeps us close to God when we base our decisions on what God wants and expects from us as we work to stay close to Him and involve Him in all aspects of our lives.
“Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can”