Recently I was "reaquainted" with a bit of my Free Methodist heritage...a heritage that smacks spiritual lethargy in the face with a "2 by 4". For example, we have John Wesely who at the time decided to take the message of the Gospel outside of the walls of the church building. Wesley, recording his thoughts regarding this decision in one of his journals, writes:
"...I have submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation."
He knew that at least the initial response from other church leaders would be one of disdain. It was a frowned upon practice to do what Wesley did in that moment. In many ways don't we find the same general attitude existing today? "Your faith is great, I'm happy for you, but do not share it with the public." that is something I have heard before.
Then there is the example of B.T. Roberts, the Founder of the Free Methodist church. At one point in his ministry Roberts, who was married with children, sold the family home and they bought a theater in Buffalo, NY from which to minister. Now, imagine coming home and telling your wife or husband, "Honey, I sold the house and were moving into and old theater to minister to the poor and down-trodden." How would that go over?
I remember when my wife, Stacey, and I moved three hours away to minister in another region...our family did not quite understand. "Can't you work at a church near here? How long will you be gone? Are you ever coming back?", etc., etc.
Jesus never said that following him would be easy, as a matter of fact, he says just the opposite. In Luke 14:27-30 (NIV) Jesus says:
"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will h not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'"
Sometimes we need to look back and see where we came from in order for us to look ahead and the where we are going. And of course this heritage goeas back much farther than Wesly, Roberts and many others. It goes back to the cross of Christ, the Pentecost event and the early church who followed King Jesus in spite of great difficulty. Let us once again fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and pioneer of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and now sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.