Psalm 105:1–4, Deuteronomy 24:17–22, Acts 6:1–7
“Solitary religion is not to be found there [inward]. “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 loves 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.”
“…no holiness, but social holiness…” has been misused over the years, being equated with social justice. John Wesley was specifically speaking about what would now call private versus public faith. For John Wesley—and the church as a whole—found that Christians were more likely to be better Christians when living within the context of a discipleship and accountability context. When our religion becomes private, we hide from ourselves and others that which needs to be brought into the light. The path of holiness can only be walked in the truth and the light with others. There are 2 “gotchas” with this. The first is the whole discipleship and accountability piece. When the world looks at us and judges us, it’s because we’re doing a pretty poor job. The other is found in our passages in Deuteronomy and Acts.
“…we manifest our love by doing good unto all men, especially to them that are of the household of faith.” Read that again. The orphans and widows, those left alone, are our responsibility to love and care for. Is there a “reasonable” limit? Maybe, though God’s grace poured out on the cross puts a lot of doubt on that. We could be Ebeneezer Scrooge and talk about our taxes, work programs, welfare, etc., but while that may be subsistence, it isn’t True Life. We think it is hard today, because “so many” people take advantage of the system. Yet, in John Wesley’s day, there were more disadvantaged, fewer programs, and a lot less money going to it.
As we look at our fellow human beings, we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by those who use our hearts for their gain. This is the sad reality of politics (all parties) and the media (bad news sells). In fact, we are seeing fatigue of all sorts set in. This allows us to harden our hearts. All is never lost, however. As the world becomes fatigued, this is our opportunity to once again be the light that we are called to be. We are not called to make a big splash, nor are we all called to the same thing. We are all called to love each other.
1) Have you found yourself becoming callous or even adversarial to others in the current political and social climate?
2) Do you find that you identify more with a political party or social view more than Jesus? Are you allowing politics or culture to define what it means for you to follow Jesus?
3) Why do you think social holiness (e.g., Sunday service, Life Groups, Bands) is needed for us to love one another?