Two extracts from John Wesley’s journals speak in interesting ways to me today.
From Oct. 27, 1772
Thousands of people, who, when they had fulness of bread, never considered whether they had any souls or not, now they are in want begin to think of God.
From Dec. 14, 1772
I read Prayers and preached to a crowded congregation at Gravesend. The stream here spreads wide, but it is not deep. Many are drawn, but none converted, or even awakened. Such is the general method of God’s providence: Where all approve, few profit.
Wesley’s testimony throughout his journals and writings is that true Christianity has little appeal to the comfortable and that it always causes offense because it comes into conflict with much that the world admires and praises.
As he writes in his “Advice to the People Called Methodists”: “It is vain, therefore, for any that is called Methodist ever to think of not giving offence. And as much offence as you give by your name, you will give more by your principles.”
Wesley believed that the Christianity always provoked controversy. The New Testament’s testimony of persecution and struggle for the early church was not an aberration. It was the mark of the Holy Spirit at work in the unbelieving world.
This is a tremendous challenge to me. I am basically a non-confrontational person who wants to be liked by other people. In Myers-Briggs talk, I am an INFP, which the books say are marked by an almost toxic reaction to disharmony. In other words, I am the guy John Wesley is trying to shake out of his illusions. And the establishment of an authentic Christianity requires that I be so shaken.