I love History. There are not so many things that I love to study. However, History is one of the subjects that make me smile. Funny, I’ve never been in a History class. Church History, in particular, can wake me up at any time of the night. I remember chatting with a friend not so long ago and she asked how I could remember all of the names and the dates. Well, you don’t struggle in anything that you love.
One thing that History will fail to give us is a perfect representation of the lives that we study. No historian can re-present events exactly as they occurred and say that everything happened that way. That’s why historians disagree a lot. Regardless of this “lack of accuracy”, we can still learn an awful lot about people, events and nations. So, History isn’t a waste of our time.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been studying the lives of the Wesley Brothers. John and Charles Wesley were born in a time that a revival was very much needed. After the Reformers died, things went stale for a while. The trio of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield introduced open field preaching in England and preached to thousands. Benjamin Franklin calculated that Whitefield’s voice could be heard by more than thirty thousand listeners.
John Wesley outlived the other two, despite being older than them, and shook the world for Christ. He preached more than forty thousand sermons and published more than five thousand sermons, pamphlets, and books of all kinds. Today, the Methodist Church (founded by John, Charles and George) boasts of over 70 million members.
The name John Wesley may sound familiar to you. You may have even sang some of Charles Wesley’s hymns in church. I simply knew them as brothers who founded Methodism before now. What shocked me about my little study was the fact that their lives weren’t perfect. They had flaws, made mistakes and messed up in many ways. It’s really easy to point out faults from this side of time. What we seem to forget is that we’re not perfect either.
A sleek suit during every ministration. Polished English. A nice smile. A well-mannered and hospitable wife. Respectable kids. Sincerity. Honesty. Every good virtue that exists. All that we expect from ministers today. We forget that they are not God.
I remember struggling not so long ago with a habit and wondering how God felt. Will He still use me? With all my silliness, weakness and doubts? I just mess up so many times. I don’t pray enough, study enough, witness enough, fast enough.. I just fall short in every area. Will He still use me?
John Wesley had a troubled marriage. He was an itinerant preacher with a jealous wife. He made mistakes. She made mistakes. His marriage is not one that any living Methodist will want to look to as a model. Despite the respect and reverence that I have for John Wesley as a minister who took the gospel to the poor and needy, I won’t want to ever have a marriage like his. One time when Wesley left for a ministry tour in Ireland in 1758, Molly (his wife) reported that her husband’s parting words to her were: “I hope I shall see your wicked face no more.”
I stumbled upon a website during my little study and I was surprised at how John and the authenticity of his ministry was lambasted and ridiculed because of the terrible marriage that he had. What they forget is that he’s not God. I don’t celebrate his failed marriage. I, however, do not judge him because of it.
When I long for perfection, I don’t look to man. I look to Jesus. What amazes me is how God continually uses the weak, unworthy and imperfect vessels to show forth His glory. And He’ll continually use the weak vessels until the day Christ returns.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
Ps. 103:10-11 [MSG]
So, don’t expect that man to be God. He’ll fail and make mistakes. Your job is to continually pray for him. Truth be told, if the church will criticize her ministers less and pray more for them, they’ll be involved in lesser scandals. If you want a better report about that pastor, bishop, deacon, etc. then you must pray more and criticize less. They’re not God. Don’t expect them to be God.
For God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.
And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,
So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God.
1 Cor. 1:27-29
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017