John Wesley’s Sermon #20 – “The Lord Our Righteousness”
1. When do we receive Christ’s righteousness? What does that mean for us?
Over and over again in Wesley’s sermons the topic of righteousness comes up. He wants to be sure people understand when they receive Christ’s righteousness and what it means for them. The title of this sermon is “The Lord Our Righteousness” indicating that our righteousness comes from Christ, our Lord. We are not righteous on our own; instead, Christ’s righteousness is “imputed” or placed on us the moment we believe in Christ. It is through Christ’s righteousness that we are aligned or put in right relationship with God, and this right relationship or alignment with God comes through Christ’s grace and mercy as we are offered forgiveness and grace through Jesus’ death. We receive new life and are renewed in the image of God through this righteousness of Christ.
2. How can we differ in practices and opinions from others and yet share in the same faith?
Throughout this sermon, Wesley emphasizes that it is very possible for us to have differing opinions from others, whether theological, political, or otherwise, and yet to still believe in God. He says it this way: people “may be different from us in their opinions, as well as their expressions, and nevertheless be partakers of the same precious faith.” We often get caught up in our own categories and divisions, clinging to our denomination or our political party, thinking that we get to be the judge of what is right and wrong, rather than God. When we do this we hurt one another and bring weapons against one another, rather than using our common faith to work together. Rather than letting our limited perspectives hinder us from spiritual growth and conversation with one another, and learn from one another so that Christ’s righteousness and God’s image in each one of us may be recognized more fully.
3. Are there moments in your own life where you have found that having different opinions and practices than someone else has strengthened your relationship with them or has strengthened your own faith?
Wesley clearly believes we can gain much more from living life with and being in conversation with people of differing opinions and theological understandings from us than we can when we are stuck in our own understandings of the world. When we join our hands and hearts together to do the work of Christ, we can gain so much more – both spiritually and for the kingdom of God. How have you experienced this truth in your own life?