Three Simple Rules
A Wesleyan Way of Living
Based on the book of the same name by Ruben P. Job
A REVIEW OF LAST WEEK:
We began a series involving John Wesley’s “Three Simple Rules” Do no harm, Do Good and Stay in love with God.
We reviewed the response of Jesus when asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus responded… “you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all you soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”…There is not other commandment greater than these.”
We began to ask ourselves…Do we look at one another and see movement toward or oneness in Christ? Do other look at us and see God at work in our life together? Is our way of living life giving rather than life draining? Is our way of living one that will enhance the quality of life of each of us for as long as we live?
John Wesley based a way of Christian life on three simple rules.
These three simple rules are just as relevant today as when they were written so long ago.
1 – Do No Harm.
2 – Do Good
3 – Stay In Love With God.
The first simple rule is “Do no harm”. How complicated is that? Even a child can understand what it means, and t is applicable to everyone at every stage of life. When it is practiced… truly practiced… this rule works wonders in transforming the world around us. As for me, I have discovered that when I remember to follow this first rule, it keeps me from uttering a wrong word or considering a wrong response.
I have also found that when I really practice this first simple step, it can provide a safe place to stand while doing the hard work, the faithful work of discernment.
When we agree we will not harm those with whom we disagree…conversation, dialogue, and discovery of new insight become possible…
When we guard our by this first simple rule…we have time and space to think about consequences before a word is spoken or an action taken.
(THE BULLET ANALOGY) (The bullet can be removed, the wound healed, but the scar always remains)
Each of us most likely knows of groups that seem locked in conflict, sometimes over profound issues and…. Sometimes over issues that are just plain silly! But… the conflict is real and the divisions deep and the consequences may often be devastating.
If however, all who are involved can agree to do no harm, the climate surrounding the conflict is immediately changed! How? Well, if I am to do no harm… I can no longer gossip about the conflict. I can no longer speak disparagingly... or judgmentally about those involved in the conflict. If I agree to do no harm… I can no longer manipulate the facts of the conflict. I can no longer diminish those who do not agree with me and must honor each as a child of God. Here’s the deal… If I agree to do no harm… “I WILL GUARD MY LIPS, MY MIND AND MY HEART SO THAT MY LANGUAGE WILL NOT DISPARAGE, INJURE OR WOUND ANOTHER CHILD OF GOD. I MUST DO NO HARM EVEN WHILE I SEEK A COMMON GOOD.”
Our founder, John Wesley in preaching on “Scriptural Christianity” in 1744, used these words
7. It may be easily believed, he who had this love in his heart (speaking of the love of Jesus (sic)) would work no evil to his neighbor. It was impossible for him, knowingly and designedly, to do harm to any man. he was at the greatest distance from cruelty and wrong, from any unjust or unkind action. With the same care did he "set a watch before his mouth, and keep the door of his lips," lest he should offend in tongue, either against justice, or against mercy or truth. He put away all lying, falsehood, and fraud; neither was guile found in his mouth. He spoke evil of no man; nor did an unkind word ever come out of his lips. John Wesley, Sermon 4 “Scriptural Christianity”…Preached at St. Mary’s, Oxford, before the University, August 24, 1744.
The “Dirty Brick” rule @ Summer Games… the results…the comments of the campers. (A “safe” place) How it applies to our daily lives as adults….as Christians…. As Disciples.
Note: I ended this message here after expanding how practicing this rule at our “Summer Games” Christian camp impacted the young campers. The “Dirty Brick” rule means campers… and adult counselors are not permitted to poke fun, even in what appears to be a harmless way at another camper/counselor. (Do No Harm) If such a remark is made… the recipient calls a “dirty brick” indicating that he/she may have been hurt or offended by the remark, even though it may have been said without the intent to do harm… To “fix” the dirty brick, the offender must offer three (3) compliments to the one offended, at least one of which comes from the heart… e.g.: I like your shirt… I think you have pretty hair… (From the heart)... I love the way you are kind to everyone around you. Then, the “repair” from the dirty brick is completed by the exchange of a handshake, or hug. The results of practicing this behavior are astounding and manifest itself in the form of creating a “safe” environment for the children. Children picked on or treated “differently” in the world find themselves able to have fun while learning about, and experiencing the love of Christ. Within 24 hours, most children understand the concept. It is amazing to witness the transformation of the children and hear their testimony at the end of the one-week camp… testimony about feeling safe, and having fun, and learning about God.
I incorporated the remainder of this message into the next message of the series.
I need to make sure we all understand something at this point. In the matter of saving lost souls, Jesus wants His house to be filled.. (Luke 14:23); The Parable of the Great Banquet, Jesus says…‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.
But in the matter of personal discipleship, He wants only those who are willing to pay the price.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Lk 14:26-33
Discipleship is serious business. If we are not true disciples, then Jesus cannot build the tower and fight the war. “There is always an if in connection with discipleship,” wrote Oswald Chambers, “and it implies that we need not [be disciples] unless we like. There is never any compulsion; Jesus does not coerce us. There is only one way of being a disciple, and that is by being devoted to Jesus.”
If we tell Jesus that we want to take up our cross and follow Him as His disciples, then He wants us to know exactly what we are getting into. He wants no false expectancy, no illusions, no bargains. He wants to use us as stones for building His church, soldiers for battling His enemies, and salt for bettering His world; and He is looking for quality.
After all, He was on His way to Jerusalem when He spoke these words, and look what happened to Him there! He does not ask us to do anything for Him that He has not already done for us.
To some, Jesus says, “You cannot be My disciples!” Why? Because they will not forsake all for Him, bear shame and reproach for Him, and let their love for Him control them. They cannot follow the first of the Three Simple Rules…. “Do No Harm.”
This stuff of being a Christian…hummm…. Jesus offers salvation to all, but discipleship…discipleship requires more… and it starts with “Do no Harm.” It is something we all can do because God gives us each the ability. God invites us this morning to look at our lives and ask ourselves honestly if our everyday way of life reflects this first of three simple rules. I don’t know where you are. But I do know that with God’s help, and our willingness, we can Do No Harm….and God can use us more effectively to transform our own lives, and that of our community and who knows….even perhaps the world will notice.