for a peaceful revolution in Christian discipleship, with millions of
“ordinary” believers awakening to God’s presence and power in the midst
of daily life. It is possible to enjoy God, become more whole, have
healthy relationships, live with purpose, and do today’s tasks as
worship. We have more resources than ever before for growth, but often
see believers living emaciated lives. We need a fresh vision of “normal”
that can inspire hope and propel institutional and personal
transformation. Thank God for all our fine pastors and good resources.
But there is an “Aha!” moment that must capture our imaginations for
is the revolutionary key: reconceiving the Christian life in terms of
dimensions and outcomes instead of categories and classes is the key to
fruitfulness. Sermons and Sunday schools, Bible studies and small
groups, online and print programs: all of these are the means to a
desired end, not the end in themselves! Check out this special
Assessment for further understanding: www.discipleshipdynamics.com.
is dimensional and integrated, not just a “to do list” of boxes to be
checked (yes, it is good to order our day’s activities!). The challenge
for each person is understanding what “there” looks like. In other
words, what are we aiming for, in principled and practical terms?
Hebrews 13:7 offers this advice: “Consider the outcome of their
(spiritual leaders) way of life and imitate their faith (both belief and
action).” The next verse says, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday,
today, and forever.”
a follower of Christ means imitation Jesus’ attitudes and actions,
dispositions and disciplines, with a desire to love God, love our
neighbor and make more disciples from every culture. What does this look
like in real life? There are five dimensions to our lives that are all
part of God’s plan and therefore they are all “spiritual” there is no
sacred/secular divide, no separation of Sunday ecstasies and Monday’s
ethics. Here are the five dimensions:
God with all our being: enjoying and growing in intimacy with the
Trinity. This is true spiritual formation and includes all the classical
disciples of prayer and Bible study, church attendance and
wholeness is an organic fruit of true intimacy with God. We lean to
overcome our painful history with hope, manage our negative emotions,
see ourselves as loved by God, forgive others and discover inner peace.
relationships are the implication of “loving our neighbor as
ourselves.” This include healthy boundaries, sexual purity, good
friendships and much more…think of all the great “one another” texts of
clarity is the fulfillment of Ephesians 2:10: we are designed for a
purpose and we are always more than our current job. Knowing our natural
and spiritual gifts, the dignity of our labor and serving with humility
should inform our lives daily.
of these dimensions are worked out as we live in a world of economics
and work each day! Whether paid or unpaid, labor or leadership, private
or public, almost everyone spends their waking hours actively doing
something. This is not our secular life nor are our activities merely a
means to an end…our work matters to God.
millions of God-fearing friends awakening to the fullness of God’s
intentions and offering all daily activity as worship to God. Imagine
seamless integration of evangelism and compassion, for-profit and
non-profit efforts, and prayer and the pursuit of justice. A peaceful
and powerful revolution indeed.
In these contentious days, it is hard for voices of
sanity to be heard about the name-calling and ideological noise. In
this four-part series, I want to present a new vision and voice for
public dialogue that offers hope for both peaceful engagement and
prudential solutions to our seemingly intractable problems.
is my conviction that underneath all the anger and insults are
disordered human affections. Our “loves” are confused. “Passion” has
replaced principle and emotions seem to triumph over ethics. When
politicians argue that, “facts do not matter if you are moral” we have a
serious confusion of categories, a loss of critical thinking, and signs
of inner chaos.
sages often speak of at least four kinds of love: familial bonds,
brotherly/sisterly affections, the comradery of soldiers and workers,
and romantic attractions. Whether the stories come from China or Greece,
Africa or India, such affections and their proper ethics are universal.
There is another type of
love that the Hebrew Scriptures and Christian theology have brought to
the world: the covenantal love of the Almighty (Hebrew: hesed) the unconditional and self-donating agape
love embodied in the person and work of Jesus. This altruistic, holy,
and sacrificial love helps all other loves find their proper place.
Familial and friendship love are now rooted in sacrifice, and
comradeship is more than suffering together – it can take on nobility.
And erotic attractions – powerful as they are – have boundaries of
behavior and loyalty.
much of contemporary confusion comes from eros overtaking agape and the
perversion of other categories that arises when self-fulfillment
overtakes service. Whether it is sexual attractions and actions,
economic policies, political discourse, or cultural expression,
disordered loves subvert the common good and leave everyone ultimately
need visions and voices rooted in agape that considers others before
self, and refines actions according to their long-term consequences and
not immediate power and success. Stay tuned for the applications of
agape to the challenges of our day. There is hope – but not in the
lowest denominator of human passion, but the highest aspirations arising
from the image of God in humankind.
Reflections and resolutions are part of the in
between moment as we prepare for 2019. Rather than offer self-help
palliatives and platitudes, I suggest that we consider history and hope
for our community, nation and world. Here are some reflections and
resolutions for our local and global communities.
President, confrontation and personal attacks are not always the best
way for promoting policies for all people. Please consider greater
conciliation and principled compromise and stop the personal attacks.
and Democratic Congressional Leaders, you can get your revenge or
actually legislate. You can investigate for two years or build a legacy
of goodness. You can start your Presidential campaigns or actually help
of the media, your partisan “gotcha!” journalism has only exacerbated
tensions. How about serious investigations of facts and explorations
concerning solutions instead on one more hit piece?
of conscience and goodwill, we can begin making the world a better
place by discussing serious issues with civility and leaving ad hominem attacks at the door. We can renew our neighborhoods and our nations with new partnerships for the common good.
for power is more potent than money and sex. Will we use our positions
and privileges to serve or simple aggrandize more authority? Will we
remember why we began a pathway of leadership or will we default into
2019 can be a great year of courage and wisdom, or a terrible year of anger and competition. May we choose well.