“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quick-ening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn “And Can It Be that I should Gain” reflects one of the pillars of Methodist theology: a life bathed in God’s grace!
John Wesley (1703-1791), the founding father of Methodism, and brother of Charles Wesley, says, “It was free grace that formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul and stamped on that soul the image of God . . . The same free grace continues to us . . . for there is nothing we are, or have, or do which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand.”(John Wesley’s Little Instruction Book, page 34-35) God’s “means of grace” leads to a transformational experience of God’s grace. Transformed through the grace of God, we are compelled to partner with God in working to bring the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven!
For the Wesley’s (John and Charles), and United Methodism today, Ephesians 2:8-10 defines our relationship with God, and our relationship with others:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s God’s amazing grace that redeems, restores, and makes us whole. It’s God’s amazing grace that clothes us in love, to be ambassadors of love!
This week, “The Methodist Way: Understanding God’s Grace,” focuses on the stages of God’s grace as we live in relationship with God. Next week, “Living God’s Grace”, will focus on the fruits of God’s grace as we live in relationship with one another. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you for worship!