Focus Scripture: 2 Cor 6:4-10
John Wesley wrote a very challenging prayer that is often used in covenant services or at the start of the New Year. Known as The Covenant Prayer, it says this:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen
This is a hard prayer--so very Wesleyan. "Do with me what you will, God. I am yours." The utter lack of pride in self, lack of ambition, lack of self-interest is so contrary to what society teaches us in important. When schools worry about self-esteem for children, and women and minorities are learning to stand up for themselves (after centuries of being systematically told they did not have the right to) and not to take abuse, it seems so out of place and almost abusive to ask them to prayer such a prayer.
And yet, I hear in it the echo of Paul's words: "through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."
And indeed I think there is a similarity, even a direct connection between them. Surely this passage inspired, even if indirectly, the Covenant Prayer. We remain true to God and faithful to God's call on us, no matter what may come. We are not faithful only in the good--faithful only so long as God ranks us among the powerful, keeps us happy and full and wealthy. Rather we are faithful to God even if we are called into difficulty and into work or relationships that put us in disrepute. Our faithfulness to God does not change.
But Paul goes on in verses 11-13: "We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also."
Those with whom we share this life, with whom we are yoked in this covenant with God, from them we expect, "as a fair exchange," that they will open their hearts to us also. What the world may think and do is one thing, but within our relationships we can and should expect to share in affection, support, and the love born of the love of God.