Ever hear of “The Holy Club”? If not, that’s okay; I hadn’t heard of it before yesterday either. The short description is this: Brothers John and Charles Wesley (Yes, that John and Charles Wesley.) belonged to a group with their fellow collegians at Christ College in 1729. The focus of the group was to serve God every single hour of the day, but rather than earning the admiration of their fellow students, they managed to be tagged with the aforementioned moniker in mockery. I guess the Wesleys would have the last laugh, though, as this group became foundational in the formation of the Methodist Church.
If you ever thought your men’s Bible study or women’s book club took its faith seriously, go read up on The Holy Club sometime. These guys were serious. In fact, they were so serious, they came up with a list of 22 questions to gauge how they were doing. Here is that list:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?
4. Can I be trusted?
5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
6. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
7. Did the Bible live in me today?
8. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
9. Am I enjoying prayer?
10. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
11. Do I pray about the money I spend?
12. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
13. Do I disobey God in anything?
14. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
15. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
16. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
17. How do I spend my spare time?
18. Am I proud?
19. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
20. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
21. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
22. Is Christ real to me?
Now, if number 12 is a requisite for holiness, I’m headed straight for hell. I mean, like, right now. In all honesty, though, I’m not sure if I’m living up to any of these. I wonder if it was possible to get kicked out of The Holy Club?
I could be totally wrong about this, but I think maybe this list of questions was meant to be more of a measuring stick than a manifesto on club membership requirements. Of course, that’s not the way I read it the first time I looked at it. I brought out the flogging stick and started going to town on myself with it. “Man, I suck,” I thought to myself. “What hope do I even have?”
Many, many years before there was a Holy Club, though, a man named Moses came down from Mount Sinai holding two stone tablets with a bunch of standards written on them, too. And, just like me, a lot of people who heard those standards being read aloud thought to themselves, “Man, I suck.” They wanted to keep all those commandments just as much as I wanted to meet the goals of those 22 questions. Neither of us have been successful so far.
None of this was a surprise to God. He knew we couldn’t make it without His grace, and as great as The Holy Club’s 22 questions or any other standard set before us may be, we’re never going to nail them every time. We need His grace. I need His grace. And sometimes He needs to show us just how far we have to go to make us realize that.
Still, I’m going to go to bed extra-early tonight. You know, just in case…