On this 76th anniversary of the epic D-Day landing, it's worth asking what kind of life is worth living, worth fighting for. Let's look back...
John Wesley (1703-1791) was the 15th of 19 children. After a profound re-conversion experience at a church on Aldersgate Street in London (you can read an excellent overview of his life here), he led a reform movement that was so specific and purposeful in its application that it was ridiculed by some as being "method-ist."
John and his brother Charles gave themselves over completely to God's purpose for their lives, and the rest is history. In keeping with his temperament, John summarized the following list of priorities, his "manifesto." It is timeless in its humble focus on biblical mandates. (This is a modern paraphrase; the original language is at the bottom of this post...)
1. Reduce the gap between rich people and poor people. 2. Help everyone to have a job. 3. Help the poorest, including introducing a living wage. 4. Offer the best possible education. 5. Help everyone to feel they can make a difference. 6. Promote tolerance. 7. Promote equal treatment for women. 8. Create a society based on values and not on profits and consumerism.
9. End all forms of slavery.
10. Avoid getting into wars.
11. Share the love of God with everyone.
12. Care for the earth.
We resolve so often to live by a certain code or manifesto. It brings to mind a powerful manifesto in Scripture: Isaiah 58. (Go read it; too long to post here.)
What is your manifesto?
John Wesley – in his own words
Be ye ready to distribute to everyone, according to their necessity.
Wickedly, devilishly false is that common objection, ‘They are poor only because they are idle…. Find them work…. They will then earn and eat their own bread.’
How many are there in this Christian country that toil, and labor, and sweat… but struggle with weariness and hunger together? Is it not worse for one, after a hard days labour, to come back to a poor, cold, dirty, uncomfortable lodging, and to find there not even the food which is needful to repair his wasted strength?
Beware of that common, but accursed, way of making children parrots …. Regard not how much, but how well, to what good purpose, they read…. The end of education….[is to] help us discover every false judgement of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts… [and] to understand as much as we are able .’
I continue to dream… [of the time when the potential of] each person can be unleashed.
Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?
May not women as well as men bear an honourable part….…..yield not to the vile bondage any longer. You, as well as men, are rational creatures. You, like them, were made in the image of God.’
In seeking happiness from riches, you are only striving to drink out of empty cups. And let them be painted and gilded ever so finely, they are empty still’
Let none serve you but by his own act and deed, by his own voluntary action. Away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion!…. Do with everyone else as you would he should do to you..
War: What farther proof of do we need of the utter degeneracy of all nations from the plainest principles of reason and virtue? Of the absolute want, both of common sense and common humanity, which runs through the whole race of mankind?
The world is my parish.
Lead us beyond an exclusive concern for the well-being of other human beings to the broader concern for the well-being of the birds in our backyards, the fish in our rivers, and every living creature on the face of the earth.