Summary: Based upon the book "Three Simple Rules" "A Wesley Way of Living" by Rueben P. Job. This is the fourth in the "Three Simple Rules" series, part 1 of "Do Good." We’ve learned it sounds simple, easily understood, but challenging to live out. Yet, Jesus, a
We are exploring John Wesley’s “Three Simple Rules” Do no harm, Do Good and Stay in love with God.
Last week, we concluded, at least for now our discussion about “Do no Harm.”
We faced the question, is it possible to live in this complex and violent world without doing harm? We acknowledged the good news … because we don’t have to undertake this mission alone, it is possible to practice a way of living that is in harmony with the life of Jesus and survive, even thrive in a world like ours. It’s a way of life both challenging and rewarding; and each of us, with God’s help can live such a life fully, faithfully, and joyfully.
Now we move on to the second rule… “Do Good.”
But, first a little Bible Quiz:
What do they call pastors in Germany?
Answer: German Shepherds.
Who was the greatest financier in the Bible?
Answer: Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.
What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
Answer: Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. David’s Triumph was heard throughout the land. Also, probably a Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.
“You owe your conscience to God; to one another you owe nothing but mutual love.”(Letters of St. Augustine)
There is scarce any possible way of doing good, for which here is not daily occasion… Here are poor families to be relieved: Here are children to be educated: Here are workhouses, wherein both young and old gladly receive the word of exhortation: Here are the prisons, and therein a complication of all human wants. (Journal from August 12, 1738 to November 1 1739 in Works (John Wesley)
Does that now sound much like the culture of today?
You know, just when we think we are ready to buy into the idea of not doing harm, of “Do no Harm,” to anyone or anything, we find ourselves facing an even more difficult choice. Things begin to get complicated…
Once again, we must remember the words of Jesus…”But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6: 27-28)
Wesley’s challenge to “Do Good” is a direct commandment from Jesus. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But we’ve learned already, that sounding simple doesn’t mean that living the rule is so simple.
What does it mean for me to “do good?” Where do I begin, what are the boundaries, the limits? I wonder, is this “simple” admonition too hard for me? What does it mean” What does doing good look like in our divided, hostile, and wounded world?”
We’re not the first one to ask these questions. The culture of Wesley’s time had many of the same characteristics we face in our world today. Wesley responded to the challenge this way:
…this commandment is written in his heart, “That he who loveth God, love his brother also.” And he accordingly loves his neighbor as himself;
He loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love to all mankind, to every child of “the Father of the spirits of all flesh.” That a man is not personally known to him, is no bar to his love; no, nor that he is known to be such as he approves not, that he repays hatred for his good-will. For he “loves his enemies;” yea, and the enemies of God, “the evil and the unthankful.” And if it be not in his power to “do good to them that hate him,” yet he ceases not to pray for them… (The Character of a Methodist,” in Works, Vol. 8 page 33.
When I consider the words of Jesus and of Wesley, they suggest that going good is a universal command. What do you think? If I understand Jesus, and as apparently John Wesley understands Jesus, this “doing good” thing is not limited to those like me, or to those who like me. Listening to these words makes me realize “doing good” is directed at everyone, even those who don’t fit my category of “worthy” to receive any good I or others can direct their way… And this causes me to ask myself, how am I doing? How are you doing?
Do we all begin to understand what is going on here? Doing good, just like doing no harm, is a proactive way of living. I don’t need to wait until asked to do some good deed or provide some needed help. I don’t need to wait until circumstances cry out for aid to relieve suffering or correct some horrible injustice. I can decide to do my very best to insure my way of living comes down of the side of doing good to all in every circumstance and in every way I can. I can decide that I will choose a way of living that nourishes goodness and strengthens community.