Why am I a Wesleyan Christian? In one word - Grace!
"You are saved by God's grace because of your faith. This salvation is God's gift. It's not something you possessed. It's not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God's accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives." -Ephesians 2:8-10 (CEB)
I was raised in a church that spent a lot of time teaching about what sinful creatures humans were and how baptism at the age of 11 or 12 washed away all those sins. The problem was, there weren't many sins to wash away at that point in my life, and they forgot to tell me what happened if you sinned after that! When I went looking for a new church in young adulthood, I wanted an answer to that question. I also wanted to know that I would not be excommunicated from the congregation if my theology didn't match the majority on every issue.
As a systems analyst, I went about searching for a new church in a systematic fashion. I actually visited every church in the small rural community where I lived. I experienced a Pentecostal congregation for the first time and a church that didn't believe in musical instruments but whose pastor was a man before his time as he wrote an outline of his sermon on a blackboard. In the end, I felt drawn to the United Methodist church that had a wonderful music program and a Sunday School class for young adults. But it was a kind, gentle pastor who took the time to meet with me and answer all my questions that convinced me that United Methodism was where I belonged.
Since that time, I have studied Wesleyan theology and fallen in love with it. I love that at our best, we seek both personal and social holiness - that what I do for others matters as much to God as what I do for my own spirituality. I love that there is room for multiple opinions on most subjects ("Though we cannot think alike may we not love alike?" -John Wesley). Most of all, I love being on a journey to love like Jesus loved, and that no matter how many times we fail, the journey and the grace continues.
- Rev. Linda Middelberg, Executive Assistant to the Bishop, West Ohio Conference,
and District Superintendent, Capitol Area North