The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s Friday Reflection is from Rev. Steven W. Manskar, D. Min. Steve is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. For 19 years he served as Director of Wesleyan Leadership for Discipleship Ministries, an agency of the UMC. He currently serves as pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Whenever I read Philippians 3:12 I think about the tract John Wesley wrote in 1742 he titled, “The Character of a Methodist.” It was his defense of the movement he led and one of his most reprinted publications. The preface begins with Philippians 3:12a, “Not that I have already obtained this.” Wesley signals to his reader what follows is a description of the way of life and person to which he aspires as a Christian and Methodist.
In “The Character of a Methodist” Wesley lays out the telos, the end or goal of the Christian life encouraged by the mutual support and accountability provided by the Methodist societies and the small groups called classes and bands. The Methodists believed the Christian life involves more than giving assent to creeds, saying, “Jesus Christ is my personal savior” and believing they will go to heaven when they die. For Methodists faith in Christ means witnessing to Jesus Christ in the world and following his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Wesley teaches us Advent waiting is active. As we await the coming fulfillment of God’s reign on earth as in heaven “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” The Christian life is active waiting. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). The goal, the telos, of the Christian life, of Christian waiting, is holiness of heart and life; inward love of God with all the heart, soul, and mind and loving who and what God loves by loving your neighbor as yourself. In these remaining days of Advent may we press on to love like Jesus and let his light shine in this world that so desperately needs faith, hope, and love.
Gracious Lord grant to us, who await the coming of your Son, the grace we need to be his light in the world. Equip us to actively wait and prepare this world for his coming by following his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion guided by your Holy Spirit; through Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.