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We live in an age when people take pictures of their lunch, their coffee, their cats, their cars, and the people they’re with, and post them on social media pages with innumerable “status-updates,” and “check-ins” to this place or that. I do it all the time. That phenomena has become pretty central to how many of us work through our days, and stay connected to others.

As I read John Wesley’s preface to his journal a couple of weeks ago, I wondered:

(1) Would he have used Facebook, and

(2) What would his posts be like?

Read the preface to his journals here, and draw your own conclusions. Share your insights, reflections, and comments in the comments section. I’d love to engage about this.

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It was in pursuance of an advice given by Bishop Taylor, in his “Rules for Holy Living and Dying,” that, about fifteen years ago, I began to take a more exact account than I had done before, of the manner wherein I spent my time, writing down how I had employed every hour. This I continued to do wherever I was, till the time of my leaving England.

Wesley_WritingThe variety of scenes which I then passed through, induced me to transcribe, from time to time, the more material parts of my diary, adding here and there such little reflections as occurred to my mind.

Of this journal thus occasionally compiled, the following is a short extract: It not being my design to relate all those particulars, which I wrote for my own use only; and which would answer no valuable end to others, however important they were to me.

Indeed I had no design or desire to trouble the world with any of my little affairs: As cannot but appear to every impartial mind, from my having been so long “as one that heareth not;” not-withstanding the loud and frequent calls I have had to answer for myself. Neither should I have done it now, had not Captain Williams’s affidavit, published as soon as he had left England, laid an obligation upon me, to do what in me lies, in obedience to that command of God, “Let not the good which is in you be evil spoken of.”

With this view I do at length “give an answer to every man that asketh me a reason of the hope which is in me,” that in all these things “I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men.” [1]

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It was so important for Wesley to know that he was using his God-given life in a way that honored the Lord. So, he made a commitment to make a journal entry every hour to summarize the experiences of his life.  However, notice his commitment to avoid writing things that “would answer no valuable end to others, however important they were to me,” and his commitment not to “trouble the world with any of my little affairs.” Finally, he was concerned about not to give offense to God or to others with respect to how he spent his time, or how he communicated about it. Notice the last line:

“I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men”

Wow!

I wonder what Wesley would say to me about my regular reflections as they unfold down my Facebook wall. Would he conclude that my posts show my concern for “Holy Living and Dying”?  I’m challenged to think more about this, especially as I think about all that Wesley accomplished in his life (much of which can be known precisely because he kept track of it so carefully through his journal).

What do you think?

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[1] Wesley, J. (1872). The Works of John Wesley, Volumes 1–4 (Third Edition., Vol. 1, pp. 3–4). London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room.

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