Dangerous Heights

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Meeting God through matter

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Jesus was the master sacramentalist. He used anything at hand to bring us into the awareness of God and then into a response to God. The moment Jesus picked up something it was clear it was not alien but belonging, a piece of God’s creation that was a means for meeting God. Jugs of water at Cana, the sound of the wind in Jerusalem, Galilean sea waves, a paralytic’s pallet at the Bethzathan pool, the corpse of Lazarus. Things. “There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He used material things like bread and wine to put new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He like matter. He invented it” [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity]

–Eugene Peterson

The truth that sets us free

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Jesus sends the Spirit so that we may be led to the full truth of the divine life. Truth does not mean an idea, concept, or doctrine, but the true relationship. To be led into the truth is to be led into the same relationship that Jesus had with the Father. . . . Thus Pentecost is the completion of Jesus’ mission.

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On Pentecost the fullness of Jesus’ ministry becomes visible. When the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples and dwells with them, their lives are transformed into Christ-like lives, lives shaped by the same love that exists between the Father and the Son. The spiritual life is indeed a life in which we are lifted up to become partakers of the divine life.

–Henri Nouwen
Making All Things New

God only cares about spiritual things?

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His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom? Are you kidding me? . . .

That’s part of it, sure, but I was pretty sure that He made physical animals and a physical man and gave him a physical job. I was pretty sure that He made a physical tree with physical fruit and told that physical man not to eat it or he would physically die. He physically ate it anyway and now we physically go into the physical ground, physically rot, and become physical plant and physical worm food.

And because of this incredibly physical problem, He made things even more clear when His own Son took on physical flesh to lead a physical life that lead to a physical cross where He physically absorbed our curse, was physically tortured, and bought you and bought me and bought this whole physical world with His physical blood. If He’d wanted a spiritual kingdom, He could have saved Himself a huge amount of trouble (to say nothing of making the Greek philosophers and medieval gnostics a lot happier), by just skipping Christmas and the Crucifixion.

― N. D. Wilson
Death by Living:
Life Is Meant to Be Spent

God likes matter

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There is no good in trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why he used material things like bread and wine to put new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.

–C. S. Lewis

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Untidy spirituality

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Surely there are guidelines to follow, principles to live by, maps to show us where to go, and secrets we can uncover to find a spirituality that is clean and tidy. I’m afraid not.

Spirituality is not a formula;
it is not a test. It is a relationship.
Spirituality is not about competency;
it is about intimacy.
Spirituality is not about perfection;
it is about connection.

The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.

–Mike Yaconelli
Messy Spirituality

In the midst of life

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Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable moments. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but…at supper time, or walking along a road…He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.

–Frederick Buechner
The Magnificent Defeat

God is the seeker

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I am beginning now to see how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding and making it difficult as possible for me to find him, but, instead, as the one who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.

–Henri Nouwen
(1932 – 1996)

Image: Stephen Darbishire

Relying on grace

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True spirituality
consists in living
moment to moment
by the grace of
Jesus Christ.

–Francis Schaeffer
(1912 – 1984)

On the ground spirituality

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By accepting Jesus as the final and definitive revelation of God, the Christian church makes it impossible for us to make up our own customized variations of the spiritual life and get away with it. Not that we don’t try. But we can’t get around him or away from him: Jesus is the incarnation of God, God among and with us. Jesus gathered God’s words spoken to and through God’s people and given to us in our scriptures and spoke them personally to us. Jesus performed God’s works of healing and compassion, forgiveness and salvation, love and sacrifice among us, men and women with personal names, with personal histories.

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Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, gathered disciples in Galilee, ate meals in Bethany, went to a wedding in Cana, told stories in Jericho, prayed in Gethsemane, led a parade down the Mount of Olives, taught in the Jerusalem temple, was killed on the hill Golgotha, and three days later had supper with Cleopas and his friend in Emmaus, none of us are free to make up our private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to scores of these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and inter-penetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says.

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Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air and trying to be someone else or somewhere else.

Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unself-consciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Why Spirituality Needs Jesus

 

Already connected

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One of the most difficult aspects of piety is learning that in a sense there is nothing we need to do.

No amount of spiritual experience
will get us more connected to the vine.

No virtue will bring us any more into union with Christ than we are already.

The only issue for us to attend with utter seriousness is what it means to be who we are in union with Christ.

-Andrew Purves
The Crucifixion of Ministry

One day we shall ride

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To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, ‘Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?’

Who will trust me with a spiritual body
if I cannot control even an earthly body?

These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bareback, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else – since He has retained His own charger – should we accompany Him?

–C.S. Lewis
Miracles

God at work

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Remember God is acting
on your soul all the time,
whether you have spiritual
sensations or not.

–Evelyn Underhill
(1875 – 1941)

Spirituality, intimacy and illusions

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Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God. That’s a naïve view of spirituality. What we’re talking about is the Christian life. It’s following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we’ve been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It’s just ordinary stuff.

This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it’s like any other intimacy; it’s part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don’t feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn’t primarily a mystical emotion. It’s a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency . . .

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It involves following Jesus. It involves the Cross. It involves death, an acceptable sacrifice. We give up our lives. The Gospel of Mark is so graphic this way. The first half of the Gospel is Jesus showing people how to live. He’s healing everybody. Then right in the middle, he shifts. He starts showing people how to die: “Now that you’ve got a life, I’m going to show you how to give it up.” That’s the whole spiritual life. It’s learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.

–Eugene Peterson
Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons
Interview by Mark Galli, Christianity Today

Joyful uncertainty

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We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.

When we become simply a promoter
or a defender of a particular belief,
something within us dies.

That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3 ). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled.

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. . . when we have the right
relationship with God,
life is full of spontaneous,
joyful uncertainty
and expectancy.

Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1 ), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

–Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest
(emphasis added)

An ancient heresy

The Church as been infected from almost the start with ancient Greek heresies that saw earthly matter and the human body as sub-par and “spirit” alone as desirable. Under this sinister influence, some in the Church depicted the Faith as salvation from the human body and this world. Biblical Christianity – thank God! — repudiated this heresy. Our Faith contends that only sin — not creation — is evil, and that this present world should be subordinated to Christ’s authority. Sin, not God’s world, is the problem.

–P. Andrew Sandlin  

Saying grace for everything

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

–G. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)

Down-to-earth spirituality

Our God is a down-to-earth deity.

Literally.

The Word became flesh. The very stuff our bodies are made of. He became “human”—a term which derives from the root “humus,” meaning earth. This was the raw material our Creator used to make us. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground…” (Gn. 2:7)

The staggering miracle of the Incarnation means that not only is man made of dust—but now God is too! Deity took on “humus.” This is the ultimate circuit blower! God didn’t just visit our race; he became a part of it!

“Theos” and “anthropos”
were organically joined.

A member of the Trinity now has skin color, eye color, hair color and fingerprints. He has immersed himself in the physical realities of human existence, and his favorite self-description became: “Son of Man.”

Martin Luther rightly stated, “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that he sunk himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”

J. B. Phillips concludes that we need “to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact—that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us.”

The foundational article of the Christian faith—”The Word became flesh”—is a bombshell for the Gnostic who affirms that the material world is illusory and evil. It also overturns the tables on Christians who subscribe to a world-denying spirituality.

The Incarnation forces us all to rethink our ideas
about nature and matter and the physical world.
It totally shipwrecks our dualistic separation
of “sacred” and “secular.”

This God become “humus” grew, breathed, walked, ate, drank, worked and wept. He enjoyed taking walks, working with wood, eating dried figs, basking in sunshine, cooking breakfast on the beach and laughing with friends. In the words of one writer, “Jesus . . . seemed as comfortable at a party as He was in the Temple.” The Creator, who at the beginning of time looked upon his creation and declared it to be good, now tasted, touched, smelled and felt its goodness.

“Time was when you could despise the body and love God, or despise God and love the body. One could be an ascetic or a hedonist.” says theologian Peter J. Leithart. “Then God got Himself a body . . . the incarnation made the ancient choice of ascetic or hedonist impossible. Since the incarnation the only choices are to love the body and God, or to despise both.”

It is often heard in wedding ceremonies that, by His presence in the wedding at Cana of Galilee, Christ blessed and sanctified marriage. However, a wedding was not the only place he showed up. He toiled at a carpenter’s bench, strolled through markets and meadows, went boating on a lake, enjoyed meals in friends homes and hiked up mountains. The unavoidable conclusion is this—Christ sanctified every sphere of human activity.

Jesus of Nazareth
is our most compelling evidence
that “spiritual” and “material”
cannot be separated,
that supernatural and natural
belong together.

In one of his poems, William Wordsworth speaks of “the light of common day,” to which G. K. Chesterton reacted angrily and in effect said, “Don’t you dare call it common—that’s blasphemous!” A similar rebuke was given to the apostle Peter, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

A Gnostic view of spirituality has led many to believe that only that which is explicitly “Christian” is truly glorifying to God. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean that true holiness requires one to wear Christian shoes, eat Christian food, sleep in a Christian bed, listen to Christian music, drive a Christian car and breathe Christian air. Obviously this is absolutely absurd! And such thinking is inconceivable for anyone who seriously believes in the Incarnation.

The fact that Holiness took on humanity forces us to reconstruct our understanding of “spiritual.”

No longer can we view the secular as unsacred. No field of human endeavor is out of bounds. “For everything belongs to you—be it Paul or Apollos or Peter, the world or life or death, things present or future—everything belongs to you; and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:22,23).

“Everything belongs to you” moves the goalposts of spirituality to the ends of the earth! It’s all encompassing. The only thing to avoid is that which contradicts who we are in Christ. The rest is ours!

We can honor our Creator, not only in prayer and worship, but also in farming, medicine, business, music, landscaping and computer programming. Through work we enrich one another and cultivate and care for the created world that God made, sustains and loves.

A musician serves God by composing great music, and not just by writing songs about Jesus. An architect honors his Maker by bringing beauty and excellence into his work, and not solely by designing cathedrals. Human activities do not require a Bible verse added on to make them valid.

When asked whether the world needs more Christian writers, C. S. Lewis replied, “No, we need more writers who are Christian.”

We can cook, paint, dance, write novels, compose music, fly kites and grow orchids to the glory of God. The duties and delights of daily human life are not obstacles, but opportunities for spirituality. In Christ the joys, pains, pleasures and struggles of earthly living are the very context of godly living and worship. We are not called to take flight into some spiritual stratosphere of mystical experience. We are called to live in a physical body in a physical world—to the glory of God.

“Christianity,” affirms Brian Zahnd,
“is a flesh and blood faith.”

It is perfectly fine to have a human body. As a matter of fact, God now possesses one Himself—and will do so forever.

The God of heaven is deeply involved in gritty activities such as creation, incarnation, redemption, resurrection and re-creation. Evidently matter matters. And when He writes the last chapter, it will not be about an eternal, ethereal, disembodied existence. It will be about new heavens and a new earth where we will live in perfected, human bodies in a physical, renewed world.

We are called to deny sin—not life.

Christian spirituality is not an other-worldly affair. It is about becoming truly human—like Jesus. It entails embracing the miracle of God’s real presence in our life and in our world. It involves celebrating sunsets, roses, coffee, family and all of God’s good gifts with gratitude and joy.

The reformer, John Calvin stated, “There is not
one blade of grass, there is no color in this world
that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

So slow down. Stop. Look. And, like Moses, take off your shoes because holy is all around us in the common stuff of everyday life. Spirituality is a down-to-earth matter.

If God truly became “humos”—how could it be otherwise?

–Jurgen Schulz

The Maker of matter

The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God . . . I do not worship matter. I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. Never will I cease honoring the matter which wrought my salvation! I honor it, but not as God. Because of this I salute all remaining matter with reverence, because God has filled it with his grace and power. Through it my salvation has come to me.

–St. John of Damascus (675-749)

Let’s get on with life

Some time ago, my friend Brenda flew to Chicago for a visit with her daughter’s family, and especially with her granddaughter, Charity. Charity is five years old—a plump, cute, highly verbal little girl. Charity’s paternal grandmother had been visiting the previous week. She is a devout woman who takes her spiritual grandmothering duties very seriously, and she had just left.

That morning after Brenda’s arrival, Charity came into her grandmother’s bedroom at five o’clock, crawled into bed, and said, “Grandmother, let’s not have any Godtalk, okay? I believe God is everywhere. Let’s just get on with life.”

I like Charity. I think she is on to something.

“Let’s get on with life” can serve as a kind of subtext for our pursuit of spiritual formation and how easily and frequently the spiritual gets disconnected from our actual daily lives, leaving us with empty Godtalk.

It’s not that the Godtalk is untrue, but when it is disconnected from the ordinary behaviour and conversation that make up the fabric of our lives, the truth leaks out.

A phrase from Psalm 116:9 “I walk before the Lord in the land of the living”—clears the ground and gives some perspective on Charity and “let’s just get on with life.”

–Eugene Peterson

World-affirming spirituality

[There should be] grateful celebration . . . among us, uninhibited by our lingering evangelical asceticism.  For the truth is that a world-denying Gnosticism has not yet been altogether eradicated from our theology and practice.

Instead, we pride ourselves on our super-spirituality, which is detached from the natural order, and we look forward to an ethereal heaven, forgetting the promise of a new earth…

We should determine, then, to recognize and acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate, all the gifts of the Creator: the glory of the heavens and the earth, of mountain, of river and sea, of forest and flowers, of birds, beasts and butterflies, and of the intricate balance of the natural environment; the unique privileges of our humanness (rational, moral, social, and spiritual), as we were created in God’s image and appointed his stewards; the joys of

gender, marriage, sex, children, parenthood and family life, and of our extended family and friends; the rhythm of work and rest, of daily work  as a means to cooperate with God and serve the common good, and of the Lord’s day when we exchange work for worship; the blessing of peace, freedom, justice and good government, and of food and drink, clothing and shelter; and our human creativity expressed in music, literature, painting, sculpture and drama, and in the skills and strengths displayed in sport.

–John R. Stott

Super natural living

In The Travail of Nature, Paul Santmire invites us to imagine that we are climbing a mountain. There are two alternatives that we are asked to consider as we make our way up the mountain: either we keep our gaze firmly fixed upwards, unaware of all around us as we journey towards the transcendent light above . . .

On the other hand, we may choose to look around us as we make the journey, our eyes drinking in the beauty and glory of the mountain scenery …
look up or look around.

The first perspective – which Santmire describes in the metaphor of ascent – implies a form of spirituality that takes us not just towards God, but away from nature, away from the physical world around us. The second metaphor, that of fecundity (or lush fruitfulness), invites us into an awareness and appreciation of the rich goodness of creation. The second alternative suggests that, in the words of Sally McFague, we need to be not just supernatural Christians, but ‘super, natural’ Christians!

–Graham Buxton

Becoming fully human

The Kingdom of God has to do not only with the God of creation, but also with the creation of God . . .

Making a difference in our world – Kingdom living – implies that there is a duality to be acknowledged. Jesus said: “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). There is light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil. But what has happened is that all that is light, right and good has been identified with one side of ‘reality’ (= the church) and all that is dark, wrong and evil with the other side of ‘reality’ (= the ‘world’). The result is that many Christians have adopted a ‘siege mentality’, hauling up the drawbridge so that there is little real intercourse between the church and the world.

Instead of celebrating all that is good in the world,
some Christians view the secular world
as unspiritual, even to be avoided.

Early on in the life of the church all sorts of wrong ideas about the world in which we live began to take root. It’s called dualism, and it has a lot to do with Plato, whose ideas have infiltrated the church over the centuries.

Dualism has robbed many people – and
many Christians – of the joy of life
in God’s good creation.

Simply put, dualism says that life is divided into two compartments, the holy and the unholy, or the sacred and the profane: for one compartment – obviously ‘holy’! – read ‘church’, and for the other (‘unholy’) read the ‘world’…

We so easily divide life up into two realms, with a whole lot of false opposites. We pit sacred against secular, faith against works, church against world, soul against body, heaven against earth, prayer against politics, creeds against deeds, and so we could go on.

Some sections of the church need to repent of the narrow dualism that avoids any form of genuine contact with the world, a suffocating dualism that can treat God’s creation as intrinsically contaminating rather than intrinsically wholesome and good . . .

Hans Kung, the well-known Catholic theologian,
was once asked why we should
embrace Christianity. His reply was:
“So that we can be fully human.”

Spirituality and humanity go together – they are not to be pulled apart – in fact, I would go so far as to say that our Christian maturity could be measured not by how ‘spiritual’ we are, but how fully human we allow ourselves to be! What is our ultimate destination, as Christians? …

Our ultimate destination is not heaven –
it is the new earth that will represent the final act
in God’s great redemptive purposes.

–Graham Buxton
(adapted)

God, grapefruits and spirituality

Someone ask me recently, “what is God doing in your life?”  If you could have heard the way he said God, you would have known that his question was loaded.  As soon as he asked it a feeling of inferiority swept through my heart.  For I knew that he was asking me what supernatural, what grand and astonishing thing had God done in my life recently.  And I knew that if I didn’t have a rather grandiose story to tell that my spirituality would be questioned.  “Well,” I said, “He gave me a ruby red grapefruit, two daughters, a son, baseball, fishing lures, friends and a wife to dance with.”

Many Christians, in their proper pursuit of Zoe, spiritual life, leave behind their Bios, natural life, as if they can have the one without the other. 

If we separate the life of the Trinity from our humanity then we fall into a wholesale de-valuing of the natural, the ordinary things of life.  The dignity of our work vanishes.  For what is managing a hardware store or running a bread route or making fishing lures compared to being a spiritual person in the pursuit of God?

When the life of the Trinity is separated from creation, our pursuit of spiritual life then leads us to discount ordinary things, to look over ordinary people and beyond ordinary events in our quest for God.  While the great dance of the Trinity is not to be reduced to creation, we have no access to it without it.

The life of the Triune God permeates creation and it is within creation that we experience it.

–C. Baxter Kruger

The ghost of Plato

We’re always in danger
of making Christianity too spiritual.
It’s the ghost of Plato.
Christianity is a flesh and blood faith.

–Brian Zahnd ‏

Fully human

Jesus didn’t come to make us Christian,
he came to make us fully human.

–Hans Rookmaaker (1922–1977)

Trinitarian-Shaped Spirituality

Our walk with God is shaped by our view of God. A non-trinitarian understanding of God leads to a spirituality fundamentally different from that which results from believing in a self-giving, self-sacrificing God who exists in a community of oneness. Theology radically impacts behaviour.

If absoluteness, power and transcendence are the essential characteristics of God, then performance, not relationships, becomes the main issue. The Solitary Sovereign looks for obedience, not intimacy; he seeks compliance, not community. Faithfulness entails keeping the rules and maintaining proper behaviour. It is not surprising that a non-trinitarian view of God typically leads to a legalistic obsession with externals, proper formulas, and “getting it right.” We end up with a kingdom of “correctness.”

“Unity without multiplicity 
is the route to tyranny.” 
–Blaise Pascal

A very different spirituality develops from a belief in relational God who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the divine community of love. He is the Three-in-One God who said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gn. 2:18). He is the Father who races to embrace and kiss his returning prodigal son, and throws a party to celebrate his homecoming (Lk. 15) He is the God who sent His Son and poured out His Spirit to redeem and include sinners in the eternal joy of the triune fellowship of love. Community, mutuality and love are at the core of who He is. And we should not expect His blueprint for us to be otherwise.

Trinitarian spirituality responds to the unconditional love of God—the staggering fact that we are loved with the same love the Father has for his Son. It dares to believe that at the centre of all things is a Fountain of Triune Love. It involves possessing “eternal life”—which is knowing the Father and the Son (Jn. 17:3), and actually becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). Faithfulness to the Triune God entails much more than behaviour modification; it means living within His loving embrace. It means knowing that growth and change happen inside the embrace—not as a condition for receiving it. And in this trinitarian atmosphere of grace and goodness we are increasingly prompted to move in the direction of wholeness, holiness, obedience and service.

“Your image of God 
is the single-most important
element of your spiritual journey.”
–Graham Cooke

If the God we worship is the Solitary One who reigns in sovereign aloneness, we will arrive at a spirituality built on fear not love, on performance, not fellowship. It will be all about correct belief and behaviour—and make sure you get it right! If, on the other hand, we worship a Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who live in the togetherness of their mutual delight, passion and goodness, a very different spirituality emerges. We can learn to be vulnerable and authentic, to value relationships and beauty, to love, serve and give, to live with gratefulness and joy. We can stumble and fail and know we are still accepted. We have become amazed participants in God’s abounding triune love that will not let us go.

The contrast between the two spiritualities is stark.

John Wesley declared that the Trinity is a truth of crucial importance that “lies at the heart of all vital religion.” Robert W. Jenson stated, “The Western Church must either renew its trinitarian consciousness or experience increasing impotence and confusion.” German theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, insists that the renewal of Christianity must find its source in the doctrine of the Trinity.

A trinitarian-shaped spirituality is not only Biblical—it’s transformational.

The believer in Christ has been brought into the Triune circle of life and glory. Could anything be more wonderful than that?

–Jurgen Schulz

Love and holiness

We must love God
before we can be holy at all;
this being the root of all holiness.
Now, we cannot love God,
until we know He loves us.

–John Wesley (1703 – 1791)

Beware of losing the wonder

Faith cannot be intellectually defined; faith is the inborn capacity to see God behind everything, the wonder that keeps you an eternal child. What is your faith to you—a wonderful thing, or a bandbox thing? Satisfaction is too often the peace of death; wonder is the very essence of life.

Beware of losing the wonder,
and the first thing that stops wonder
is religious conviction.

Whenever you give a trite testimony the wonder is gone. The only evidence of salvation or sanctification is that the sense of wonder is developing not at things as they are, but at the One who made them as they are. There is no set definition of faith into which you can fit these men and women; they were heroes of faith because they “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”

–Oswald Chambers
(1874 – 1917)

Lord of pots and pans

Lord of all pots and pans and things,

Since I’ve no time to be a saint by doing lovely things,

Or watching late with Thee,

Or dreaming in the dawn-light, or storming Heaven’s gates,

Make me a saint by getting meals

And washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha’s hands, I have a Mary mind,

And when I black the boots and shoes,

Thy sandals, Lord, I find.

I think of how they trod the earth,

What time I scrub the floor:

Accept this meditation, Lord, I haven’t time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,

And light it with Thy peace;

Forgive me all my worrying, and make my grumbling cease.

Thou who didst love to give men food,

In room or by the sea,

Accept this service that I do — I do it unto Thee.

–Cecily Halleck

Published in: on 11/21/2011 at 7:29  Leave a Comment  
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