Q 12: Do I disobey God in anything?

wesleys questionsPart of John Wesley’s genius, as the founder of the Methodist Movement, was the way he organized to make disciples. He established small groups everywhere he went. When these small groups met, they would go through a list of questions at each meeting. The questions were designed to guide the group members into a deeper walk with God.
Here is the twelfth question:

12. Do I disobey God in anything

Ouch. This one gets personal. At least that’s the initial feeling.

But let’s be real here: almost all of us immediately answer, “yes,” right? Then we go on to think, “well, of course I disobey God. I’m a sinner!” We may even wonder why this question is asked at all.

Which, I expect, is the reason it is asked at number 12 rather than number 1.

Do I disobey God in anything? While this is, structurally, a “yes” or “no” question, I do not believe we ought to settle on that answer. Remember, this list of questions was constructed for use in small groups of people who were committed to learning to follow Jesus better day by day, and more than just learning how, to actually following Jesus better day by day.

Which means that, even if your answer to the question, “Do I disobey God in anything?” is always “yes,” it ought to be different things as you move through your life.

In the context of the small group meeting, then, I believe this question was rarely left as a “yes” or “no” question. I believe it would typically engender further conversation. I believe individuals would feel encouraged to share a specific way or two they feel they disobey God.

So, there you are: you are in a small group of people with whom you share a commitment to growing as a disciple of Jesus, and you have admitted a way in which you disobey God. The next step seems almost as straightforward – you strategize how to stop that particular disobedience.

Does God agree with you? with me?

20160617_144150In the face of all the many disagreements, and further, in the face of what seems to be a lack of ability to communicate in civil and well-intentioned ways, I thought this morning of these words from Isaiah 55:8-9
My plans aren’t your plans,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    and my plans than your plans. (CEB)
Do you suppose that when God says, in Isaiah 55, that God’s thoughts and ways are not ours, God is referring to everyone? I have to admit that my usual first read of that passage is that God is referring to my enemy/opponent/anyone who disagrees with me.
To be fair, though, I have to admit, though it sometimes takes me a while, that God is, in fact, saying this to ALL of us.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not have a second thought on my agenda for which this is the setup. Not that I never operate that way, but I am not this time)