More than ‘strangely warmed’

I have appreciated Dr. Donald Haynes’ good articles about John Wesley and our Methodist roots. I would like to add an insight to his reference about Wesley’s Aldersgate experience in the March 1 Reporter. Dr. Haynes reports, “After feeling his heart ‘strangely warmed,’ Wesley returned home to write the words we all have memorized about the witness of the Spirit.”

I confess my memory is not as good as many, so I was surprised a couple of years ago when I read again the text from Wesley’s journal. My wife and I were volunteering at Moore Methodist Museum, St. Simons Island, Ga., and I was helping develop a visual display to encourage confirmation classes to learn about the Aldersgate experience. As I read from the journal, I discovered Wesley’s report of his experience does not end with the oft-quoted familiar words: “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” Nor does it end with the next sentence, which is also quoted but not so often: “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Wesley continues with this: “I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me.” Wow! That got my attention. It is one thing to feel inside that God loves me . . . and to celebrate that. It is quite another to be so powerfully moved by the Spirit to pray “with all my might” for ones enemies. Surely this in keeping with Wesley’s preaching of both personal piety and social outreach. It is a challenge for all of us to not only celebrate the work of God’s Spirit within us, but also to respond to the Spirit with love and forgiveness, even for our enemies.

The Rev. Cleo Kottwitz
Retired Elder, Missouri Conference
Columbia, Mo.

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  1. Thank you for your letter Pastor Kottwiz. Too often we stop at the end of a phrase or a verse or a paragraph and miss the full impact that the writer of the words wanted to convey. A move back to:

    “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” Wesley continues with this: “I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me.”

    would bless not only the umc but the whole of Christendom.

    The Son said in Matthew 5:44-45, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do so? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

    I, for one, fall painfully short in this admonition.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 

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