Summary: Christians witness through the means of their social witness
Understanding the Power of Social Witness
August 22, 2010
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1Timothy 4:7-8
The pursuit of godliness means that a change is required. When a person comes to know Christ, their life should be changed and they should not be able to remain the same. The old life has been crucified with Christ and the new life has been raised with Christ. The old life is dead and we have been given a new life to live.
Part of living the new life is separating ourselves from the old life. Life is to be focused in the pursuit of knowing God more and becoming like Christ.
The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness – John Wesley
Many times people quote Wesley and make the point for compassionate ministry. John Wesley was a pioneer in the work of compassionate ministry. The Methodist movement sought to help meet the needs of helpless and the hopeless. Wesley taught that it was necessary for the church to ministry to the physical and spiritual needs of individuals. It did no good to preach the gospel and not also feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick. Our faith should make us desire to minister to those who are in need.
There would be a second dynamic to the statement that is often ignored. Holiness is meant to be social in nature. Not only reaching out to those who are in need but to be a living example to those around us. When Wesley speaks of social holiness it is not just about compassionate ministry but also about a lifestyle that is seen by society. People ought to be able to see Christ working within us by our desire to live holy and upright lives.
The Wesleyan Church seeks to use both dynamics of social holiness. We seek to minister to social needs and we seek to live with a public witness. The problem is that too many Christians try to be secret agents for God and not let anyone know that they are followers of Christ. People should be able to see the work of the gospel within us.
This morning I want to examine the social standards of the Wesleyan membership covenant. I want to explain the reasoning behind our expectations of our members. The fourth major commitment deals with setting an example within the community in social witness.
1. Abstaining from the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs
2. Refrain from membership in secret societies
3. Refrain from gambling
John Wesley called the church to a higher standard. One of the major problems within Anglican Church was that he disregarded their spiritual roots. The goal of the Methodist movement was not to creating a church but to revive the one that already existed.
Listen to Wesley’s words: my aim is to reform the nation, particularly the church, and to spread scriptural holiness over the land. -- John Wesley
The goal was to reform the hearts of the people and to be a change agent within the corrupt society. The reality is that the Wesleyan Church still carries on the mission of Jesus through the work of Wesley.
Why do we maintain the Membership Covenant? Why not just set our own rules for membership?
1. We are a Wesleyan Church - We are bound to their rules and their standards
2. Organization obligation - We follow the Wesleyan membership standards - Common bond
3. Changing to fit the culture is nothing short of compromise
4. Pastoral commitment - I am committed to following the guidelines of the Wesleyan membership covenant
How can the church change the culture if we adopt the culture?
If we want to point the world toward Christ, we must live above the cultural climate. When we change with the culture, it makes us weak and wavering. Either we are going to change the world or the world is going to change us. We are called to change the world. Changing the world starts with our own lives. Did Jesus die for us to compromise His values or did He die to save the world? How will the world be saved if the church compromises the truth?
Paul spoke to Timothy regarding the nature of the Christian life and uses an amazing phrase in verse 7.
Train yourself to be godly. The concept that Paul is driving at speaks directly to these issues in the Membership covenant. The reality is that we must put effort into our Christian walk. We have to strive for something more in our relationship with Christ. The understanding of godliness is simply the pursuit of becoming more like God and allowing the world to know. The purpose of social example is to show the reality of our Christianity through the manner we behave.