Some years ago, I read through The Journal of John Wesley. In the journal, Wesley reflects on the mission effort among the American Indians. I was particularly moved by the following lines:
I went to America, to convert the Indians; but oh! who shall convert me? who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of mischief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near; but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. (Tuesday, January 24, 1738)
What a moving paragraph! Wesley went to these people believing that they needed the Gospel. Yet, Wesley knew that he also needed the Gospel. He not only knew that the world needed Jesus but that he too desperately needed Jesus. Perhaps this is a great challenge for anyone who is a Christian leader. How important to know that your need for the Gospel has not lessened because of your ministry. If anything, it ought to make us aware of how badly we need Jesus.
The other line that I found very moving was his comment about having “a fair summer religion.” Does this seem all too familiar?
I’m thankful for these words from Wesley over 250 years ago. They remind me that I need Jesus — desperately. His words are a reminder that our commitment to ministry does not exempt us from our own profound need for Jesus.