Wesleyan Stages of Grace
Dr. Laura Felleman
- An Atheist.
- Someone with zero interest in religion. They fidget in discomfort when the topic of Christianity comes up.
- Someone with no prayer life, no faith in Christ.
- Someone who constantly gives into temptation and then regrets it, feels a bit ashamed, a little guilty, but goes ahead and gives into the same temptation again the next time.
- Someone whose life is orientated towards worldly achievements and acquisitions.
- Someone with no hope, who despairs for the future.
- Someone who is afraid of God. They are painfully aware of all the people they have hurt, the wrongs they have done. They can not forgive themselves. They hope God will forgive them, but they aren’t sure that heaven awaits them. They do know one thing for sure; they are not worthy of God.
- Someone who prays, worships, donates, serves all the time because they are under the impression that they can improve themselves-- all it takes is willpower. But they are so angry, so full of righteous indignation and moral outrage that faith appears to be making them judgemental not holy. They seem to be driven to make sure that God won’t find any fault in how they are living their lives. They want to be above repute.
- Someone who believes in God, would agree with the statement that there is a God, but that’s the only statement of faith they can affirm. They have belief in something God-ish but do not feel love or trust or devotion for that God-like figure. They think religion is all about being a good person. Period. Nothing else. Acting in a moral, responsible manner satisfies any sense of obligation they feel towards this nebulous divine entity.
- Someone who has been a Christian all their lives. They were baptized as an infant, went to Sunday School as a child, attended youth group as a teen, and then they became a young adult and their church attendance became less regular. Their faith hasn’t changed much since they were in their twenties. They are Christians. They will tell you that they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by the cross they are forgiven. They want to observe Christmas and Easter as religious holidays. The rest of the days of the year, however church doesn’t fit in with their lifestyle. They know that they are on good terms with the Almighty, and they believe that’s all that matters. Occasional moments of joy and peace are all they need to carry them through life. If they ever experience a tragedy or go through a stressful period in their life, they know that their church will be there for them.
- New Christians. They have questions about Christianity. There’s so much they don’t understand, and they feel like they are supposed to have answers to these questions.
- People with a childlike trust in God. They know that God is at work in the world, and they are convinced that God can do wonders.
- Someone who is surprised when temptations arise. They thought they were past all that now. Anger, impatience, jealousy, dislike of others-- they don’t like these aspects of their personalities. They come to worship for a recharge so they can get refocused on the positive.
- Idealists. They have a faith that wants to be put into action on behalf of others. They don’t know how to accomplish things like social justice, fairness and equality, but the ideas inspire them. They trust that God is on the side of the just. They will figure out the practical how-to steps to get to those goals eventually.
- Christians so connected to God’s love it’s as if divine love is welling up and out of them. They have tried out different Christian disciplines in order to figure out which ones keep that connection strong and healthy and which ones just aren’t for them.
- When temptations arise they turn to that connection with the sacred. They’ve had a lot of practice going to God for help and now it’s second nature to seek strength and help from God. They are aware of their need for forgiveness and that makes them quick to forgive others.
- They give of themselves, share their faith, encourage the faith of others, and love in the midst of want.
- They have experienced hardships, and they believe that God has walked them through those times. They don’t have all the answers, but they have made their peace with the limitations of human understanding and they are comfortable with divine mystery.
- They have had to learn to deal with skeptics who think they are fakers. They explain to the suspicious that God gets all the credit for the good that is in them and for the good that they do.
- They believe that God has a plan for the world, all people, all creatures, all of creation, and they want to be a part of God’s mission to make love, peace, and justice the standard for all civilizations. They are realists about human nature. They are idealists about God’s nature. They keep supporting efforts for social betterment even though change is slow because it’s God’s will and they want to surrender to that divine will.
- These Christians are consistently moral, virtuous, mature, holy, godly, and righteous in their attitudes, actions, thoughts, habits, and behaviors.
- At this stage of grace temptations are much easier to ignore.
- Loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving the neighbor as oneself, even when that neighbor is an enemy, is possible by God’s grace.
- The promptings of the Spirit are readily discerned and obeyed.