Living with a Single Eye
Question: What would John Wesley think about a church and a nation being tested by profound division?
John Wesley would remind United Methodists of the central importance of our personal decision to “live with a single eye”. Wesley began this practice during his days at Oxford University when he, with a small group of like-minded Christian believers, sought to order his life after the example of Jesus—living so that every aspect of his life was focused on giving glory and honor to God. “Living with a single eye” was John Wesley’s highest priority.
This emphasis for all of his personal and ministry decisions was the reason he and his friends were ridiculed on Oxford’s campus and sarcastically referred to as “Methodists”.
Throughout his life, Wesley advocated for the benefits of living with intentional method and loving God in all things. He believed that a person who lived without faith was like “an unbridled horse without course in a field wandering around expending much energy to no apparent purpose.”
John Wesley wrote many pamphlets on the subject of “living with a single eye” that were published in his lifetime, but still have relevancy today. They covered topics of speech, dress, finances, use of time, and social action on issues of public consequence. Wesley challenged his readers—and us today—to consider all the practical ways we may each order life so that every aspect of our living is done in gratitude to God for the gift of life. Wesley was certain that we can live a different life when we live each day with eternity in mind.
In a letter to a colleague, written in 1734, Wesley wrote, “Let us agree what religion is. I take religion to be, not the bare saying over so many prayers, morning and evening, in public or in private; not anything superadded now and then to a careless and worldly life: but a constant ruling habit of soul, a renewal of our minds in the image of God, a recovery of the divine likeness, a still-increasing conformity of heart and life to the pattern of our most holy Redeemer.”
Later in life, Wesley wrote a letter to his group of itinerant preachers in 1769. It stressed the importance of holy focus. “I take it for granted that our unity cannot be preserved by any means between those who have not a single eye. Those who aim at anything but the glory of God and the salvation of men, who desire or seek any earthly thing, whether honor, profit, or ease, cannot continue in our service.”
Taken from The Lesson of John Wesley, by Glenn Wagner, The United Methodist Men Quarterly, Winter, 2020-21