A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, February 13, 2009

"Three Simple Rules" - Rule #1 Highlights

My weekly Thursday morning bible study began a new study on the book, "Three Simple Rules" by retired United Methodist Bishop, Reuben Job. This is one of the smallest books on the market, but packed with three life transforming rules that can literally change your life.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, summarized Christian practice by encouraging those early 18th century Methodists to live out these three simple rules.

The three simple rules are:

Do no harm.
Do good.
Love God.

I told our group how our District Superintendent used these three simple rules to share with someone who had sat next to him on a plane flight and who was open to some practical advice on how she should proceed to deal with some problems and issues she was facing in her life. In less than a minute, he briefly encouraged her to live out these three simple rules, rules which he seeks to follow in his own life.

The first simple rule is "Do no harm." Here are some brief highlights of this rule from our study yesterday:

This rule, while simple, is difficult to live out because of three reasons:

1. It demands a lot of self-discipline on our part.

2. We tend to bind ourselves to a particular ideology/theology, rather than to Jesus Christ, alone.

3. We're afraid of the consequences if we live out this rule. When we refuse to live according to the ways of the world, this will have an impact on who we are inside and out!

Our group talked about ways that we inflict harm on others - gossip, speaking disparagingly about others, manipulating the facts, and diminishing those who disagree with us.

The author of the book, Reuben Job, was one of the keynote speakers at last year's West Ohio Annual Conference gathering at Lakeside, Ohio. This is a man of deep wisdom, spiritual maturity, and substantial Christian conviction.

I probably paid him one of the deepest compliments when I told my group yesterday that he reminds me of the Apostle John. Tradition tells us that John, one of Jesus' disciples was the only disciple to live to an old age. He was so respected and revered for his Christian character that when christians/churches were behaving badly, he would appear in front of the assembly, and because he was in a weakened state, would offer these barely audible words in a raspy voice, "Beloved, let us love one another" and then he would sit down! That's all it took. And people began to behave in a more Christlike way in the way they treated each other.

Next week, because the Season of Lent is around the corner, we're going to need to focus on the remaining two simple rules together.


Naomi said...

I am struck by Barack Obama's inauguration speech when I think of John Wesley. He quoted "Do no harm" in that speech and his call to action has never been witnessed before. As a follower of political science, and as a feminist, I realize that we are witnessing more than just history. We are witnessing a shift in people.
CEO's are being held accountable and while their actions are horrifying and irresponsible, society is beginning to take notice of a new way of thinking. Obama has even included GLBT community in speeches. We are looking beyond religion, sex, nationality, etc. and focusing on the individual.
Even during the super bowl we saw commercials promoting volunteer pledges and ads about coming together. This is something we didn't even see with Kennedy (and unfortunately he died before we could see all his administration was capable of). Do no harm has never been more important. Our president, children, friends, neighbors, need us to do no harm. Our world needs it. This makes me so proud to be a Methodist and for our president to stand up and say, "I am a feminist." I think Methodism is feminism. Do No Harm.

Robert McDowell said...

Thanks for pointing out the connection with this 1st simple rule and the shift taking place in the political landscape.

I know President Obama isn't United Methodist, but I do sense some "wesleyanism" in him.