Summary: This is the first is a three part sermon series on the Methodist Society General Rules.
(This sermon is in text format, but are talking points and is intended to be expounded upon)
This morning I was going to preach on avoiding evil – but then I thought, you don’t need that! Right?
Some people don’t believe in evil, one man told me just over Christmas, that they didn’t believe in evil. He said, "Some circumstances just benefit some people and not others”. I said that will be of comfort to the family of a murder victim, “Circumstances just didn’t benefit you…” We all know that evil is in the world. It exists!
Ill: Northern Michigan University library we found three postcards written by the same person:
1) Dear Mom and Dad - Thanks for sending me on vacation. We’ve toured a lot of interesting places. The historical society was really fascinating and I learned quite a bit about Marquette, Michigan, in its mining days. We’ve even tried some of the local food since we’ve been here. Love, Connie.
2) Dear Sue - Hi! I finally woke up and felt awake after one week of totally intense partying! I figured it was a good time to write before we start again. The guys up here are sensational! I went out with a different one each night. Well, take care, and don’t party too much! See ya, Connie.
3) Dear Jim - Boy, I sure do miss you! I wish you could be here so we could share the fall scenery together. I haven’t been doing too much here, just visiting and touring around quite a bit. I can’t wait to see you! Love and Kisses, Connie. (1)
John Wesley – Methodist Societies, “A desire to flee from the wrath to come and to be saved from sins”. 3 General Rules 1st – By doing no harm; by avoiding evil of every kind.
What would it mean to do no harm? To avoid every kind of evil? James 4:7 “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you”. Jeremiah 29:11 says “I know the plans I have for you, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope”.
A stronger call “DESPERATELY avoiding evil”
Why have we departed form this Wesleyan rule? Why do we no longer hold one another to a higher standard of living? Why don’t we stand shoulder to shoulder together and do no harm? Why don’t we ourselves do no harm and desperately avoid evil.
Lots of ways we do harm (Name some?)
- we say hurtful things – we write hurtful letters – we gossip – we cheat – we tell lies…
Ill: I want to tell you a story of two men:
James Gray of Belfast, Ireland – (2) “In April that year, he was arrested whilst driving; several thousand pounds were found in the car, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland believed he was intending to travel to the Republic of Ireland with what they suspected to be the proceeds of drug dealing and extortion.” “He was often nicknamed "Doris Day" for his flamboyant dress sense and dyed blonde hair. Another media nickname for Gray was the "Brigadier of Bling". He was also the part owner of several bars in east Belfast.”
Stephen Warnock of Belfast – (3)” £40,000 found in the LVF man’s car he said: "The lack of any explanation as to a lawful source, the criminal background and associations of the deceased, all point to the overwhelming conclusion that the money was the proceeds of crime and recoverable property."
In the early 2000’s Both men and their familes were members of the same Methodist Church in Belfast, pastured at the time by Rev. Gary Mason. (4)
On Sept 13th, 2002 Warnock was shot dead while driving his 3 year old daughter to school. (LVF) (Loyalist Volunteer Force)On the night before his funeral Jim Gray (UDF) (Ulster Defense Association) was shot in the face, but lived. He was later killed by his own group in October 2005 (5)
Members of Gray’s group then were going to block
Warnock’s funeral (both groups believed that the other had planned the attack on each other). Rev. Gary Mason finally went to a Tavern filled with several hundred UDA members. He finally pleaded with the men “I’ve stood by some of you in difficult and perplexing situations. Someday I might be doing your funeral and your family would not want anything to stop it, would they?”
John Reid, British Govt. said of Mason’s efforts
“The Church has to stand up for Christian values in the midst of these situations or else the Gospel becomes irrelevant” (4)
(1) By Carol Kent, "Detours, Tow Trucks and Angels in Disguise," a 1996 NavPress book (E-zine: THE TIMOTHY REPORT http://www.swanlake.twoffice.com/contact3313.html )
(2) James Gray, (1958 - October 4, 2005), Wikipedia
(4) UMNS News Story #444 2002