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