In Luke 10:27, it is recorded that an expert in the law asked Jesus how one might attain eternal life. Drawing on the Torah books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus, the expert in the law was able to find an answer for himself: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself”.
This verse became the driving force for John Wesley’s Social Holiness movement. He held that just as every Christian pursues a holy relationship with God, they must also pursue the same holy character in relationships with others, by “loving their neighbour” and giving of themselves in service to society.
Mark Mann, Director of the Point Loma Nazarene University Wesleyan Centre, said: “Wesley believed that all Christians are called to lives of holiness, by which he meant hearts filled to overflowing with love for God and neighbour.”
John Wesley would never substitute social action for the commission to preach the gospel and lead others to the Lord. Consequently, wherever Methodism goes to plant churches, the twin ministries of evangelism and social concerns are always developed together.
Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you” (Matt 26:11). How true! There are indeed many poor and needy in our neighbourhoods.
Thus, every Methodist local church has an Outreach and Social Concerns Committee to develop its “love our neighbour” ministry. The Annual Conference also has a Board of Outreach and Social Concerns. The General Conference has the Methodist Welfare Services to work hand in hand with the local churches and the Annual Conferences to reach out and care for the poor and needy. This provides a platform for all our members to participate and contribute.
During the season of Lent, or the 40 days before Easter, we enter a period of fasting, contemplation and quiet reflection to focus on our relationship with Jesus. We can feel even more deeply Jesus’ compassionate love for those who are disadvantaged and distressed. In the last few days of Holy Week, when we reprise God’s agape love for the world by sacrificing his only Son to die on the cross for us, we appreciate all the more the meaning of grace freely given.
The Giving Methodist (TGM) is going into its second year, and members are becoming aware of the significance of TGM during Lent. Let us start caring for the disadvantaged, the poor and needy today, including those unknown to us.
Remember what Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40).
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2016. He served as President of the Chinese Annual Conference from 2008 to 2016.
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