In a world divided and filled with fear for what tomorrow may bring, comes a still, quiet voice saying "God loves us all."
Rueben P. Job, retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, uses John Wesley's three general rules to give Christians a blueprint for a faithful life in a new book, Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living, published by the United Methodist Publishing House.
The rules from Wesley, the founder of Methodism, are simple: "Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God."
"These simple rules then and now applied to everyone," Job said. "No one was left out. No one was too good, too mean, too rich or too poor, too educated, too illiterate."
Drawing parallels between Wesley's time and the world today, Job says the feelings of disenfranchisement, doubt and fear are much the same.
"Our world is deeply divided, highly cynical about its leadership, greatly disappointed in its structures and systems that seem so flawed, broken and corrupt, broadly conflicted and gravely afraid of tomorrow."
With so many hurting, frightened people Job says a radical change must take place.
"There are two enormously encouraging truths for us to remember," Job said. "One, God is with us. God continues to woo us, seek us out, love us, speak to us, enable us and lead us into the future. Second, it has been done before."
Wesley's three simple rules transformed women and men and started a movement that became a denomination and transformed a forming nation in North America, Job points out.
"Today we also need a message that can be clearly understood by persons of every age, every educational and economic level, every condition and circumstance of life," he said. "And today these three simple rules provide that message."
Primer for holy living
"In Three Simple Rules, Rueben Job tells the truth about God and about our relationship with God. He makes plain the way of life that, in John Wesley's day, launched a vibrant movement that transformed the personal lives of millions and their communities," says Susan Salley, executive director of adult resources at the publishing house.
"Job provides a straightforward path that leads to the joy of deepening our love of God and living every day the way Jesus shows us," she said.
Bishop John L. Hopkins of the Ohio East Annual (regional) Conference says Job's book offers "a more faithful way of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ with personal practices that have the power to change the world.
"If you want to change the world, you must begin with changing yourself," Hopkins said. "Three Simple Rules is a primer for holy living that is both personal and social."
"Every year I review the three general rules of The United Methodist Church with those who are being ordained," said Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minnesota Area. "I try to get them to envision these historic rules in contemporary terms along with the historic questions. Now I have a wonderful ordination gift to give them in Bishop Job's Three Simple Rules, to start and deepen the conversation as they enter a new relationship with the church."
An important component of the book is lessons on daily practice that will help Christians live a faithful life.
"It is not what many of us have been doing, so to adopt this way is a radical shift in our lifestyle," Job said. "It is a radical departure from our regular way of living, so of course it will be difficult."
The book offers a liturgy for the beginning, middle and end of the day with prayers, scriptures, reflections and blessings.
The book closes with a song adapted from John Wesley with music by Raquel Mora Martinez, "Stay in Love With God."
"The rules are simple, but the way is not easy," Job writes. "Only those with great courage will attempt it, and only those with great faith will be able to walk this exciting and demanding way."
The core of Wesley's message was that God loves us all, Job said. "All of us are the apple of God's eye. We all can claim our full inheritance as God's children."
Three Simple Rules is published by Abingdon Press and can be ordered at www.cokesbury.com. A video to go with the book is in production and will be available in April.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].