Friday, September 4, 2009

Three Simple Rules

Recently I had my annual physical exam, which consisted of several tests followed by a doctor’s visit. My doctor reviewed the results with me, checked me over thoroughly, asked a lot of questions, and made some recommendations. The week following my physical exam I had my biannual visit with the dentist. The routine was much the same with the dentist as it was with the doctor. I understand that despite the inconvenience of these visits they are necessary to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mouth.

Our spiritual ‘selves’ also need to be checked on every now and then. We ought to have some way to assess our growth (or lack of) as a disciple of Jesus. While there are likely several ways this could be done, I stumbled across a method that I found very helpful. Last year I read a short book by retired UM Bishop Reuben Job titled Three Simple Rules. Job takes the general rules that were written by John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement) and distills them into what he calls three simple rules. They are:

Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love With God

While these rules are surprisingly simple, putting them into practice is far from easy. I find the rule ‘stay in love with God’ to be the one I struggle with the most. Being a disciple for many years is a lot like being married for many years – there is a tendency to take your spouse for granted. Much the same thing can happen in our walk with Jesus, which is why nurturing our relationship with God is so important for spiritual growth.

In Leviticus 6:12 the command was given to the Israelite priests that ‘the fire on the altar must be kept burning, it must never go out.’ The same is true for the fire of God’s love that burns in our hearts. We must be sure that it never goes out. Perhaps it is time to give yourself a spiritual check-up to see how you are growing and where you need some work. These three simple rules provide a way to see how you are faring spiritually. I often have had to remind myself that if I am not staying in love with God, content to let the fire go out, then not much else I’m doing will matter anyway.

So how is it with your soul? Jesus was called the ‘great physician’ and maybe a check-up with the three simple rules is just what the doctor ordered.

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