Did you realize today is Aldersgate Day? Do you know what Aldersgate Day is? If not, don't feel bad, most Methodists probably can't say exactly what it is. May 24, 1738 is the day John Wesley experienced a spiritual transformation that led to the start of the Methodist movement. Wesley's faith had pretty much lived in his head but not his heart. He was committed to Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, but what was missing was personal experience of Christ in his life. He attended a Moravian gathering in London. Hear what happened in Wesley's own words...
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society meeting in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading [Martin] Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
Aldersgate Day reminds us that we benefit from another's spiritual breakthroughs. What are the "Aldersgates" in your life? What are the spiritual breakthroughs you've had in your life that led to blessings and benefits in the lives of others?
This Day also says something hopeful to me about Methodism today. We need a breakthrough more than ever. I am realizing such a breakthrough will not come by more conferences and meetings, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. The church never was ours. It is God's. We are called to be stewards of the grace of Jesus Christ. As we focus on helping people experience God's grace and discerning how God would lead us to share that grace more fully, God will give us the direction we need to be the body of Christ in whatever form and under whatever name that needs to be.
Some years after the Methodist movement took off, Wesley wrote something very important for the people who come after him. I think this, too, is a timely word for us today:
I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.