What Would Wesley Think?

November 26, 2010 — 4 Comments
Today is Black Friday in the US. It is the second day of gorging. Yesterday we gorged ourselves on food. Perverting the original Thanksgiving feast that celebrated the wonder that any of the Pilgrims were still alive, Americans have taken to an annual day of eating themselves into a stupor, watching football (American, that is), and then unfairly blaming their resultant sloth on tryptophan. Today, we gorge on goods. It is a day of mythic retail sales, long lines, and ridiculously early store openings. Much like pie and turkey, it is a tradition for many families.

I've been reading a lot of John Wesley's Works recently. He had some harsh things to say about the over-consumption of his time:

  "O ye that have riches in possession, once more hear the word of the Lord! Ye that are rich of this world, that have food to eat, and raiment to put on, and something over, are you clear of the curse of loving the world? Are you sensible of your danger? Do you feel, 'How hardly will they that have riches enter into the kingdom of heaven?' Do you continue unburned in the midst of fire? Are you untouched with love of the world? Are you clear from the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life? Do you 'put a knife to your throat,' when you sit down to meat, lest your table should be a snare to you? Is not your belly your God? Is not eating and drinking, or any other pleasure of sense, the greatest pleasure you enjoy? Do not you seek happiness in dress, furniture, pictures, gardens, or anything else that pleases the eye? Do not  you grow soft and delicate; unable to bear cold, heat, the wind or the rain, as you did when you were poor? Are you not increasing in goods, laying up treasures on earth; instead of restoring to God in the poor, no so much, or so much, but all that you can spare? Sure, 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven!' . . .
     "Was not another cause of it your despising that excellent help, union with a Christian society? Have you not read, 'How can one be warm alone?' and, 'Woe be unto him that is alone when he falleth?' But you have companions enough. Perhaps more than enough; more than are helpful to your soul. But have you enough that are athirst for God, and that labour to make you so? Have you companions enough that watch over your soul, as they must give account; and that freely and faithfully warn you, if you take any false step, or are in danger of doing so? I fear you have few of these companions, or else you would bring forth better fruit!" (from "On God's Vineyard," The Complete Works of John Wesley, Volume 7 pp. 212-13)


Anderson Campbell


  • Michael Ratliff

    John said it well, and your quote could be no more appropriate!

  • Rodger McEachern

    Makes me want to be a methodist or at least a wesleyite! Good stuff. Perhaps you have seen this cartoon: http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/directory/b/black_friday.asp

  • Tim Buechsel

    In Germany the churches (not mainstream society) celebrate thanksgiving (on a differnt day then in the US). It’s a time to thank God for the harvest he has provided. In the church that I grew up in, on thanksgiving people brought things they harvested (or bought) and put them on the altar in the front of the church. The view of all the fruits and vegetables impressed me as a kid. It was a good reminder that God is the giver of all good gifts. The words that you quoted from John Wesley (and Jesus) challenge me. I have to think of Matthew 25 and the judgment szene – I wonder what Jesus will say to us?

  • Russ Pierson

    Any time I read about ease, wealth or consumerism, I can see the pointy, bony finger of Nathan the prophet as he looks me in the eye and says, “Thou art the man.” I find great pleasure in food and drink. I am unable to bear the cold and the wind.We have been moving over the long Thanksgiving weekend after one final feast at the old homestead on Thursday. I hate the physicality of moving, carrying heavy things hither and yon. But it is an excellent antidote to consumerism. Today I want less, not more.But we’ll have to see if it sticks.