Wesleyan Means of Grace
Works of Piety
Individual Practices – reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others
Communal Practices – regularly share in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), and Bible study
Works of Mercy
Individual Practices - doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others
Communal Practices – seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery), and addressing the needs of the poor
How are you partaking in the Means of Grace?
Before we start, I must apologize. This blog post is quite lengthy. We all can say that this year has been really hard for everyone. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and political turmoil that is pulling the country apart, it seems we cannot go anywhere without seeing something controversial. We have seen many hurt and grieve this year. We have seen riots and chaos consume parts of our country. We have seen 500,000 people die in the U.S. alone from a disease we still know very little about. We have not been able to see people whom we are close with. It has been extremely daunting on us, and we are all experiencing fatigue.
With all of this going on, I thought about how I could grow closer to God; about how I can maintain an intimate relationship with God to where it pours out into other areas of my life. Also, it gives me a break from the craziness of the world. And I went to one of my favorite theologians, John Wesley, to see what he recommends. Wesley spoke of the Means of Grace in many of his writings and even has a sermon on it. So, I decided that this year I was going to take on more Means of Grace.
Before I continue with what I am doing, it would be helpful to know what the Means of Grace Wesley says every Christian should do in order to be in a relationship with Christ.
First, we have the Works of Piety. We must read Scripture daily, no matter how much to see all the good that God has done. This means reading both the Old and New Testament because they are both important for us as Christians. We need to take communion as often as possible. Wesley said we should take it everyday, and I completely agree. We should fast, because fasting helps us realize we are finite beings and that we need God. We should take a Sabbath, both daily and weekly, to rest and recharge our bodies, minds, and souls. We must pray, pray everyday and pray often. It is our direct communication with God. We also must worship, because worship is celebrating all that God has done for us and participating with the whole body of Christ. We need to live healthy lives, taking care of our bodies and souls. Finally, and this one is difficult because of social distancing, but it can still be done, we must conference with other Christians. We must be active with others in Christian living, whether it is in large groups or small bands or one on one conversations. Zoom can be handy for this one.
Next, we have the Works of Mercy. Wesley draws many of these from Matthew 25. This is where we do good works, where we are helping those who are in need around us. Where we visit those who are sick and imprisoned. We feed and clothe those who need it.
We earn all the money we can, in a humane way, save all we can, where we can have enough to get by for a time, and then give all we can with all the money we have left over. Finally, we must seek justice for those who have been neglected. This can come in many ways depending on what the community around you needs. All of these, the Works of Piety and Mercy, help us in the process of sanctification as we move towards Christian Perfection.
This all seems like a lot, especially for those of us who work full time or who are in school full time, but they can be done. For me, I wake up early and I read my Bible everyday. At this point and time, I am reading through the book of Acts and seeing how the early, Apostolic church lived. I also want to read through all the Psalms again because they are awesome. I take communion 3 to 4 times a week. Here at Asbury, they have communion 5 days a week, and I am able to go 3 times during the week, and I rejoice knowing that Christ died for all of our sins. I have started a prayer journal, where I pray daily for anything and everything and to seek where God is guiding me that day and for while I am here at Asbury. Bea and I partake in a weekly Sabbath, where we take time to rest, spiritually and physically every Saturday (which means no homework, yay!).
I have started working out 4 days a week and watching my eating habits, because if I am to help others, I need to make sure I am taking care of myself. I am in worship 4 days a week. It is easier for me to worship since we have chapel 3 days a week, but having a place where I can regularly go and worship God is something we all need. Also, I am a part of a discipleship band, where me and 2 other guys meet weekly to talk about our struggles and successes going on in our lives. We listen to one another and pray for each other; it is truly one of my favorite times of the week. Finally, I have been asking God to show me where I can aid those in need around me. This is something I am still trying to work out, but I have been feeling led to talking with the pastor I am mentoring with about visiting those in prison here.
I am sure you are seeing all of these things and wondering how the heck anyone can do these. How can we add in more Means of Grace with the crazy schedules we have going on? I completely understand, it is not easy to pursue these things. But my friends, when you do pursue them, you grow close to God and He pours into other areas of your life. When we focus on having an intimate relationship with Christ, our perspectives change, we become more like Him. We are given a zeal to accomplish what Christ has set before us each day, and when we take time to rest, we are revitalized to continue that work.
General and Jurisdictional Conference Lay Delegate Alternate