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Simple, But Not Easy

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“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” –Colossians 2:6-7

In a small book titled, “Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living,” the late United Methodist Bishop, Rueben Job, adapted John Wesley’s general rules for people called Methodist. The general rules were developed in 1739 as a way of living that helped guide life in community for individual Christians.

The three simple rules as adapted by Rueben Job are to: Do No Harm; Do Good; and Stay in Love with God. The season of Lent, with its call to self-reflection, is a good time to revisit these three simple rules.

Much of the harm done in Wesley’s day parallels harm we see in the 21st century including hunger, exploitation, joblessness, working for less than a living wage, lack of health care, and environmental harm. Bishop Job says that even in the middle of difficult or controversial situations, “When we agree that we will not harm those with whom we disagree, conversation, dialogue, and discovery of new insight become possible.”

Doing Good for John Wesley brought him to working with the poor and suffering. He intentionally spent time with people in need and required those in the Methodist movement to do the same. Wesley is known to have shared the words, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, in all the things you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Bishop Job says that while the first two rules are important, they are difficult to sustain if we do not also understand the third rule to stay in love with God. John Wesley was a highly disciplined person and believed that spiritual disciplines were a means of God’s grace that help us grow in faith and stay in love with God.

As we continue in this season of Lent, may we find spiritual practices that help us to live in such a way that we, Do No Harm; Do Good; and Stay in Love with God.