John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 43

*Altogether a Christian: The love of God

“ ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart.’ ”

Matthew 22:37 NASB

We come, second, to what is implied in being altogether a Christian.

First, the love of God. So says his Word: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind, and with all your strength’ “ (Mark 12:30 NKJV). Such a love as this occupies the whole heart, takes up all the affections, fills the entire capacity of the soul, and employs the utmost extent of all its faculties.

One who thus loves is continually rejoicing in God. His delight is in the Lord, his Lord and his all, to whom he gives thanks in all things. All his desire is toward God and to the remembrance of His name. His heart is always crying out, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none on earth that I desire beside Thee.”

Indeed, what can he desire but God? Not the world or the things of the world, for he is crucified to the world and the world is crucified to him. He is crucified to the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life. He is dead to pride of every kind: For “love is not puffed up.” One who is dwelling in love, dwells in God, and God in him; and he is less than nothing in his own eyes. For the love of God is a mark of the altogether Christian.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this forty-third lesson on prayer, Wesley discusses the “altogether” exchange of the desires of our flesh with the “altogether” love of God. When we change the oil in our car, would we drain only half the oil from the engine? Not at all. It would not be an “altogether” oil change if we did.

C. S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” says it well:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Wesley starts with Matthew 22:37: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind, and with all your strength,” and then goes on to say, “Such a love as this occupies the whole heart, takes up all the affections, fills the entire capacity of the soul, and employs the utmost extent of all its faculties.” In other words, when love moves in altogether, it takes over. It leaves no room for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life.

The apostle James writes in James 4:1-5:

1What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ” He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

In contrast, Wesley states, “One who thus loves is continually rejoicing in God. His delight is in the Lord, his Lord and his all, to whom he gives thanks in all things. All his desire is toward God and to the remembrance of His name. His heart is always crying out, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none on earth that I desire beside Thee.”

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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