John Wesley wrote: “The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.” The word “social” is being used here. And we must make sure we understand the use of this word. Very often in the mainline church, we mistake “social holiness” as social justice. No. Some even mistake this idea to be about “socialism.” No. And in today’s world, we might connect it somehow to Christianity in social media. Not really. Wesley’s use of “social” is to talk about having relationships with each other. Wesley knew deeply that we do not grow by grace without being in frequent community with others who are in the journey of grace.
Every bit of John Wesley’s spiritual development was formed in community. He therefore created the system of small groups and discipleship groups. Did you know the invention of Sunday School and small groups ministry is actually attributed to John Wesley’s Methodist movement? In order to grow in faith, we must be together. The Gospel itself is so contrary to the mode of thinking we have learned in the different cultures of our formation. Some people have been indoctrinated by a religious legalism. Others have been formed by secularism. But the Gospel is oh so different. Prioritizing presence as a member of the church is not about obligation. Being present and participating in church life is not about fulfilling an obligation or enriching your life. It’s about being part of a world changing movement that lasts for eternity.
Christian living cannot be authentically and effectively done when it is a solo journey. There are certainly times in which we need to be alone with God, but when we take a good look at the ministry of Jesus and his apostles, we cannot deny that Gospel living is about faith lived out, supported, encouraged and empowered through a community of faith. Let us continue to meet together, be together, share together and grow together. As Jesus did. As the apostles did. As John Wesley did. As our church already does. Let’s keep on being together.