A couple weeks ago, we had B.J. Johnston come to Bentonville Church of the Nazarene to perform his one-man-play, “The Man From Aldersgate.” The play is a dramatic performance of the Life of John Wesley. Yes, this might sound boring, or like a Sunday that you’d want to skip! To the contrary, however, BJ’s performance was outstanding and profound. As a Wesleyan Theologian, or perhaps I should say as a Theologian who stands intentionally in the Wesleyan theological tradition, I am always keen to learn more about Wesley, but I did not know what to expect that Sunday. I prepared original curriculum for our Life Groups on the life and theology of John Wesley, and then, after teaching my own class, I went to the worship service hoping that BJ’s performance was better than some expected. Personally, I was looking forward to the play, but had no way of guessing it was going to be so good. Johnston’s portrayal of Wesley was educational, informative, moving, inspirational, and always comical!
I can’t explain exactly how I felt, but odd though it might sound, I was challenged more on that Sunday than I have been in a long time. Afterward, Pastor Mark mentioned that he wouldn’t be doing an alter call, but I told him later, that had he done so, I would have been the first one up. Of all the lessons I took away from that Sunday, this sentence sticks out to me as the most profound. “I cannot bear stand before a holy God and play church.” I’m not sure if that quote is original to Wesley or not. If it is, I haven’t been able to track it down. Either way, it certainly fit that morning, and it fit coming from the mouth of John Wesley.
As I sat there, I asked myself, “am I guilty of ‘playing church,'” and, “how often am I guilty of ‘playing church?'” Unfortunately, I think the answer was more often than I care to admit, or more often than it should be, to say the least. Sure, I work very hard, and I try to do my best at all that I do, but why do I do it. Am I truly being faithful to God’s call on my life?
Not a lot of answers yet, just questions. I often feel challenged, and I think that’s a good thing. This time was a bit different though, and I will continue to wrestle with this challenge for some time.
We should not be content, friends, with simply “playing church.”