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The Nature of Enthusiasm

Yep, that’s actually the title of one of John Wesley’s Fifty-three Standard sermons. It’s hard to fault enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, Kansas City and environs has been in the grip of enthusiasm for several weeks, highlighted by the parade and rally yesterday at Union Station. What else can cause around 500,000 people to stand in the cold for up to eight hours hoping to catch a glimpse of their gladiatorial heroes? What else can cause your pastor to simply neglect to publish his weekly Bits & Pieces on time? Enthusiasm.


Now Wesley didn’t condemn Enthusiasm out of hand in that many of the Prophets and Apostles were “enthusiastic.” Enthusiasm being defined as those with “uncommon vigor of thought,” and a “peculiar fervor of spirit.” He acknowledged that this "elevated the soul to greater and higher things.” So, what’s his beef?


Simply, enthusiasm “hinders the exercise of reason.” He cautioned about a “religious madness arising from some imagined influence of God.” He further cautioned about enthusiasm because it leads some to imagine themselves Christian when they are not. He then lists his evidence: Christians are holy, enthusiasts are not. Christians love God, enthusiasts love the world. Christians are humble, enthusiasts are proud. Christians are gentle, enthusiasts are passionate. Christians strive to have the mind of Christ, enthusiasts are far from it.


He then cautions his reader to “beware we do not run with the common herd of enthusiasts, fancying we are Christians when we are not.” Rather, “strive to have the mind of Christ, and walk as He walked.”


It probably could have been summed up by Jesus with less ink spilled. In Luke 20.25, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Give to the Emperor the things that are the Emperor's and to God the things that are God's.”


I have had a blast rendering to Mahommes, er Caesar during the Super Bowl run. I hope we do it again next year. But, it’s time to rethink about building the kingdom of God, not enjoying the Chiefs Kingdom. We are called to “be Christ’s hands and feet,” in ministry one life at a time.


Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday as we prepare for the season of Lent, which will begin next Wednesday as we observe Ash Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Also, on Sunday, Feb. 26, we will receive a special offering to be forwarded to UMCOR for earthquake relief in Turkey and Syria.


See you Sunday,


Paul

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