More Than...

The Almost Christian - Reflections for Personal Devotion and Conversation with Others

(Sermon 2 in the Standard Sermons of John Wesley)
By: Lauren DeLano

1. What motivates an “altogether Christian”?

In this sermon, Wesley differentiates between an “almost Christian” and an “altogether Christian.” While being an “almost Christian” doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, Wesley highlights that one difference between the two types of Christians is why or for who they desire to do good. In other words, what motivates a person to live the life of a Christian? What motivates an “almost Christian?” What motivates an “altogether Christian?”

2. Are you fully alive, experiencing the love of God in your heart and overflowing from your heart?

We have defined true religion as a relationship with God, not certain practices or doctrines. Yet sometimes we confuse the means and the ends. An “almost Christian” believes the means, or the practices and doctrines, are the end or purpose. But for Wesley an “altogether Christian” understands that the practices we hold dear and the doctrines we profess are a means to the end, which is experiencing the love of God. When we understand this, we allow for God’s love to dwell in our lives and we become fully alive. Are you fully alive, experiencing the love of God in your heart and overflowing from your heart, or are you temporarily happy because of the practices you’re committed to and the creeds you can recite? What are negative consequences when we confuse the end with the means?

3. Have you had a transforming moment when you felt the Holy Spirit calling you to move from an “almost Christian” to an “altogether Christian”?

In the first half of his sermon, Wesley gives examples of the ways that other people act as “almost Christians” rather than “altogether Christians.” He talks about people exhibiting outward religion and being driven by fear of sin or “love of virtue.” But all of a sudden, the examples of an “almost Christian” shifts from other people to himself. He gives a testimony of how he discovered, “that all of this time I was but almost a Christian.” Thus, his sermon is not a rebuke of other Christians, but instead a reflection of who he has been and how a love of God and a love of neighbor transformed his life and led him to live a lifestyle of faith. Have you had a transforming moment when you felt the Holy Spirit calling you to move from an “almost Christian” to an “altogether Christian”?