Going Deeper: Character of a Methodist
The word “sanctification” can be an intimidating word. It is, however, an important concept for Christians in general and Methodists in particular. From God in Leviticus calling the people of Israel to be “holy as I am holy” or Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew inviting the new community to be “perfect as your heavenly father is perfect,” sanctification is a consistent theme and calling for the people of God. Sanctify comes from the word “to make holy” or “be separated.” Our separation is not meant to convey the sense of being withdrawn as much as it is a calling of uniqueness. We are called to be the unique people of God. The Israelites were called to reflect the holy character of God, which would result in strict laws (like resting on the Sabbath) and even a unique diet (not eating pork). The new community of Jesus’ disciples is similarly called to embody the unique way of Jesus (forgiveness, radical compassion, and selfless love). When John Wesley taught on sanctification, he was affirming God’s continual work of the Holy Spirit within us, confirming or shaping us into the image of Christ — the ultimate example of love.