As the apostle Paul said to Timothy, “Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.” These words of Paul are the very words that exemplified Bresee’s life when he said he was “clearly called.”
Bresee continued to live as a pioneer in his faith journey—always pushing the edges, and always finding new ways to bring people into solidarity with authentic Christianity and its message of reclamation. He was not one to become a settler on the prairie of spiritual complacency, but continually sought God and the deeper Chris-tian life. I find myself drawn to Bresee’s example for something more, something adventurous, and something that is ripped out of the New Testament Scriptures. I am drawn to the God who calls me to give my life to something that is more than a set of prescriptive rules and doctrines. No matter what our tribe has become, I am still drawn to the early years of the church where Bresee, persuaded by the Spirit, answered the call to pastor. He made an appeal to the people to pour out their lives for one another and to respond to the authority of the Word. He asked the rich and the poor to give up all so they might have all things in common, and truly be brothers and sisters in Christ. He reached into the depth of a society and culture that was lost in addiction and confusion and did not conform to it but sanctified it by living amongst those living troubled lives and offering the radical optimism of grace in a benevolent God.
I am in hopes that our little band of pioneers, whom we call The Community of Adsideo, can join others like Luther, Calvin, Arminius, Wesley, Campbell, and Bresee as we seek the fullness of the call to follow God. It will cost us, because like these leaders, we know that the court of public appeal may not understand. Bresee’s tenacity speaks to a conviction that is not often seen nor experienced in our world today.
I also want to be a person who follows hard after the call of God to carryingon the work of the conversion of sinners. I agree with Dr. Bresee in the call he received and the words he spoke in an October 30, 1895, organizational meeting for the First Church of the Nazarene of Los Angeles:
We seek the simplicity and the power of the primitive New Testament Church. The field of labor to which we feel called is in the neglected quarters of the cities and wherever else may be found waste places and souls seeking pardon and cleansing from sin. This work we aim to do through the agency of city missions, evangelistic services, house-to-house visitation, caring for the poor, comforting of the dying. To this end, we strive personally to walk with God and to invite others so to do.
May we embrace the depth of these words so that the last, the lost, and the least may know the love of God.
JIM WICKS is senior pastor of the Community of Adsideo in Oregon.