Nineteen Questions 3–Do You Expect to be Made Perfect in Love in this Life?

I’m a day behind, so I’m going to do two shorter reflections today. I went camping with a group of guys…that was anything but perfect.

Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?

This question, at first brush, seems just as strange as the previous was to me at my first annual conference when I was 15. Do you expect to be made perfect in this life? At first glance, it just seems rather presumptuous of John Wesley to make this inquiry. But, as Bishop Lyght points out, it is doubtful that Wesley would ask this question if he didn’t truly believe that it was possible.

The question makes sense to me on a cerebral level in light of the previous question. If I am going on to perfection, if I’m striving for it, then the expectation should be that God can work that holiness in me while on terra firma. John Wesley wrote of this expectancy. In his journal he defended the charge to expect perfection in love in this life, “I say an hourly expectation; for to expect it at death, or some other time hence, is much the same as not expecting it at all.”[1]

As I reflect on this question, that really makes sense to me. It is really easy to say “Oh yeah, God is going to make me perfect—but not in this life.” To expect to be perfected in love in this life—now that’s a God-sized expectation! I expect that God can make me the type of human being who loves God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, who loves my neighbor as myself, who does justice and loves mercy and walks humbly before God. I want that holiness of heart and life that deepens a dynamic, mature relationship with God and neighbor. I want to be all that God has called me to be. I expect to be made perfect in love in this life—not by anything that I can do, but by the grace of God.

Do you expect to be made perfect in this life? God willing, I do.

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[1] John Wesley, “May 6, 1760 to October 28, 1762,” Journal and Diaries IV (1755-65), ed. W. Reginald Ward and Richard P. Heitzenrater, vol. 21 of The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992, p. 389.

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