14 March 2011

Challenging Quotes from John Wesley (1703-1791)

"…every shilling which you needlessly spend on your apparel, is, in effect, stolen from God and the poor. And how many precious opportunities of doing good have you defrauded yourself of! How often have you disabled yourself from doing good, by purchasing what you did not [need]… I pray consider this well. Perhaps you have not seen it in this light before.
"When you are laying out that money in costly apparel, which you could have otherwise spared for the poor, you thereby deprive them of what God; the proprietor of all, had lodged in your hands for their use. If so, what you put upon yourself, you are, in effect, tearing from the back of the naked; as the costly and delicate food which you eat, you are snatching from the mouth of the hungry. For mercy, for pity, for Christ's sake, for the honor of his gospel, stay your hand. Do not throw this money away. Do not lay out on nothing, yea, worse than nothing, what may clothe your poor, naked, shivering, fellow-creature!"
(The Works of John Wesley, vol. 7, "On Dress")

"You bind your own hands. You, make it impossible for you to do that good which otherwise you might. So that you injure the poor in the same proportion as you poison your own soul. You might have clothed the naked; but what was due to them, was thrown away on your own costly apparel. You might have fed the.hungry… but the superfluities of your own table swallowed up that whereby they should have been profited. And so this wasting of thy Lord's goods is an instance of complicated wickedness; since hereby thy poor brother perisheth, for whom Christ died."

(The Works of John Wesley, vol. 8, "A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion")

"If I leave behind me ten pounds (above my debts and my books or what may happen to be due on account of them), you and all mankind bear witness against me, that I lived and died a thief and a robber."
(The Works of John Wesley, vol. 11, "An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion")


DelhiBound said...

All amazing quotes ....

Miss Britt said...

Challenging is the perfect word to describe these.

Jon Parsons said...

So he wouldn't have supported washing Jesus' feet with a bottle of expensive perfume? And what about, in the old testament, the amount of money that was spent on the building of the temple?

Does God want us to eat only the mst basic of food that will sustain us, rather than enjoying the variety of food he has given us?

I have been thinking about this quote since you posted it, and I think that I don't agree with him. I don't believe we, as Christians, are called to try to right all the wrongs of the world. I believe we are called to make a difference, yes, but if we all did that then there would be no need for such extreme measures that Wesley was supporting in these quotes.

It's actually a very materialistic view in my opinion, and I don't believe God views us that way. Yes, God created us all equal, but that doesn't mean that, in the eyes of the world, we should all be equal.

Is that a contentious thing to say?

deb said...

Jon, I appreciate your ideas. In fact, I really miss the VBI study we did on this subject. I loved the dialogue it generated.

I certainly can't pretend to speak for the man. What I do know is that his context was primarily clothing and food - not perfume (that Jesus applauded) or a temple (that God commanded).

I do believe God wants us to enjoy all foods. However... I think it's wise for each one of us to challenge our own thinking and our own actions from time-to-time. Wesley's thoughts are - to me - a good way to do that.

You and I rub shoulders on a daily basis with poor people. Don't you think it's a good practice to be stretched in our thinking - not only about how we relate to them - but also how we live when we return to our own homes?

Jon Parsons said...

I think it's great practice to be stretched in our thinking Deb. I am always up for that, it would be too easy to become complacent about these sorts of issues without any challenges.

How much should one conform to the society one is in? Should I wear a decent suit to my sister-in-law's wedding in April, or get something from Toi that will do the job but may be frowned upon by some?

I guess I think that there is a balance to be found, and that Wesley's quotes don't appear to allow for that - they are fairly extreme. Maybe he deliberately wrote them that way to challenge people and get them thinking, but if what he writes is true then he lived them out. I respect him for that but wonder if all are called to do the same?

I was thinking about the quotes when I went to look for a birthday present for Jo on Wednesday. I suppose to strictly apply them to my life I would have bought her something completely essential. I didn't do that, and nor do I think it would have been right to do that. But why do I think it's ok for me to buy something that is not necessary when there are people starving etc.

For me the answer lies in our human view of our life in this world, compared to God's perspective of life here as a minute fraction of eternity.

deb said...

Cool! I love that you're applying his "extreme" ideas to your normal everyday life (buying clothing for a wedding) and buying Jo a gift. I think that's great!

re: finding a balance - I totally agree. EACH one of us has to do that for ourselves! And it will look different for each one of us. That's the beauty, isn't it?

I think quotes such as these help us to avoid becoming complacent. And I also think complacency is a dangerous place to remain.

DelhiBound said...

For me, it is a reminder to be just that, balanced.

Most of the quotes that resonate with me, encourage me or challenge me are not spoken by complacent men/women ... they are most often extremists in their views and belief systems.

The definition of an extremist is "One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm."

If we all practiced our daily life, made our daily choices based on the norm, then these quotes are truly calling us to step outside of them ... even for a moment.

I would love to see what this world would look like if we all made ONE choice that reverberated from Wesley's viewpoint

deb said...

Cool! Then call ME an extremist!

Naomi, I love your "even for a moment" and "ONE choice" ideas!

Jon Parsons said...

If we treat Wesley as an extremist then I agree, and I'm with you both.

Talking about extremists, have either of you read 'Crazy Love', by Francis Chan? He was a Pastor of a large Californian church who quite about a year ago because, as he says, he was hearing his name more than God's name being uttered in his church. He shares a view, rather extremist some would say, that the majority of Western Christians will not end up in heaven. In a nutshell it's because of their lukewarmness, and the bit in Revelation about 'spitting them out'. I felt challenged, even though I'm no longer a Western Christian, or at least I don't consider myself to be one, by his view.

If you haven't read it I'd recommend it.

deb said...

Jo mentioned the book to me recently. Do you guys have a copy of it? If so, I'd love to borrow it.

DelhiBound said...

Wow, re: "hearing his name more often than God's" !!

I'm an extremist too!