Community, Not Isolation
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, wrote in the Preface to his Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739):
Solitary religion is not to be found [in the Gospel of Christ]. “Holy solitaries” is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness. “Faith working by love” is the length and breadth and depth and height of Christian perfection. “This commandment have we from Christ, that he who loveth God love his brother also;” and that we manifest our love “by doing good unto all men, especially to them that are of the household of faith.” And in truth, whosoever loveth his brethren not in word only, but as Christ loved him, cannot but be “zealous of good works.” He feels in his soul a burning, restless desire, of spending and being spent for them. “My father,” will he say, “worketh hitherto, and I work.” And at all possible opportunities he is, like his Master, “going about doing good.”
This then is the way. Walk ye in it, whosoever ye are that have believed in his name. Ye know, “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ.” Ye feel that “by grace ye are saved through faith”; saved from sin by Christ form’d “in your hearts,” and from fear by “his Spirit bearing witness with your spirit, that ye are the sons of God.” Ye are taught of God, “not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is”; but to instruct, admonish, exhort, reprove, comfort, confirm, and every way build up one another, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One” that teacheth you to renounce any other or higher perfection than “faith working by love,” faith “zealous of good works,” faith “as it hath opportunity doing good unto all men.” “As ye have therefore received Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and stablish’d in the faith, and abounding therein” more and more. Only, “Beware lest any man spoil you thro’ philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” For “ye are complete in him.” “He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Only “continue in” him, “grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.” “And when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory!”
What do you think?
Is there some amount of truth in Wesley’s words? How do you live your faith in and through community? How do you try to live your faith in isolation from others? How’s that working out for you?
Love God. Love self. Love others. Transform the world. Together.