Jesus had the miraculous ability to make the complex simple. Whether it be through parables, miracles, or just loving people Jesus modeled for us the simplicity of faith in a loving Father to simply solve the complex.
For every disciple of Jesus, the temptation is in following Him to make the endeavor complex and Levitical. We get caught in up abiding by hundreds of rules rather than relishing the relationship. The genius of John Wesley and his approach to helping people understand their identity in Christ and the simplicity of comprehending and living the life of a disciple of Christ is profound. For instance, one of Wesley’s complex-made-simple teachings was around what we call the Three Simple Rules.
The first of these may surprise you in that it is not a “do” rule, but a “do not” rule. Do no harm. Primum non nocere. Some will recognize that this lesson is the first taught in bioethics to all those in the medical field who strive to live in the highest ethical exercise of their profession. But wait, there is more. Wesley’s second rule was even simpler: Do all the good you can. Since that is the second part of the Hippocratic Oath, then it makes sense to assume that Wesley borrowed these rules from the ethical mores of the medical community.
Well, you may be surprised to learn that these were not introduced into modern medicine bioethics in a textbook until 1840, which was well after John Wesley devised them for his classes and bands to use to help keep disciples of Jesus on point. Maybe the medical community found these Methodist movement rules so ethically compelling that they borrowed from Wesley? And there is even more…
Beyond those two adopted in the Hippocratic Oath, Wesley had a third: Stay in love with God. Now that is an amazing and challenging rule to get our minds around. Yet, the spiritual disciplines that Wesley taught (included in the graphic above) were the very means of grace by which we not only stayed in fellowship with God, but the means by which we also lived in covenant relationship with God and those around us.
The UMC now uses a moniker description of “The General Rule of Discipleship” to refer to these dynamics. We would do well to teach these daily like the Shema in our home, workplace, and place of worship as these are the disciplines by which our simple faith works and grows stronger. Remember that God yearns to be with us, not just do for us, so seize the opportunity to love and be loved.