Welcome to Part 2!
Last week I suggested that there were two things that Jesus wanted you to know, and that these two simple concepts have the potential to jumpstart, restart, or simpley START your spiritual journey.
The first thing that we need to understand about reality (and ultimately, any spirituality worth its salt is in the end about REALITY) is that “salvation is a life,” and you obviously you can read the rest of that post if you’d like.
The second reality that Jesus would love for his followers to understand is that not only is salvation a life, but we are active participants in that life.
(Or, at least, we should be.)
Yep… this is the part where Jesus tells most of us to get off our butts and start engaging in our lives in such a way that he can be present in it with us.
Because the life we have to live can only be lived by one person, and one person only…
You can’t live someone else’s life. Christ comes to no other person in the same way he has come to you, and what that means is that Christ comes to YOUR job…
… YOUR family…
… YOUR school…
… YOUR financial situation…
This is significant because there’s an insidious tendancy in matters of faith to think that spiritual things happen to, well, spiritual people…
(and almost all of the time the “spiritual people” = not me).
But the thing is that the life Jesus comes to save and dwell in is not anyone else’s life. It’s yours.
Not only do you not have to wait until you “get right” with Jesus to start experiencing salvation, you actually can only do what you can do right now, in this moment.
Good spirituality is only ever about how you can experience the Kingdom of God now, in this moment and in this circumsances, not in “someone else’s” life, who is supposedly “more spiritual” than you.
(To be clear: I’m not saying that there’s not more spiritually mature people in the world: I know there are, and I’ve been blessed to experience life with some of them. What I am saying, however, is that some of us use our “UN-spirituality” as an excuse to stay dormant and stuck, when actually God says that
RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE…
(And that, my friends, is called GRACE.)
The actual question is, what are you gonna do about it? What will you do with this life that is given to you?
Jesus wants to live his life in your life.
IF you want that, if you want to experience Jesus life in the midst of your life, what you actually have to do is arrange this life of yours in patterns and rhythms and experiences that actually resemble Jesus’ patterns and rhythm and experiences.
(There’s an old cliché here that actually is appropriate: If you want to do the things that Jesus did—meaning his miracles and such—than you have to do the things that Jesus did… meaning his rhythms and patterns and habits of life.)
A lot of us don’t think that way.
We’re stuck. We’ve been trying this “faith thing” for a while now, but instead of Jesus’ life of love, peace, transcendance we still seem to have “Eric’s life” of jealousy, laziness and too many chips and salsa.
It feels mundane, and definitely not spiritual.
We pray for something, and we try harder, but if we haven’t actually arranged our lives to look more like Jesus’ this practically amounts to a Christian version of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.
In just the first chapter of Mark’s gospel, we are told that Jesus hangs out in “lonely places” to be with God. He rises before dawn to pray.
That’s just a hint of what we’re getting at: Jesus is able to do the things he does and experience his Father the way he does in because he makes himself available to the Father.
(It’s not about Jesus “working” for his father’s love, and it’s not about that for us either. God gives His love freely; it’s about what to do with this life that we are living.)
To put it yet another way, salvation is a life, and we are invited to practice it in particular ways, ways that Jesus (and other spiritual masters throughout the years) are very familiar with.
Metaphors and examples from art and sports serve well here:
You can call yourself a “musician,” but if you don’t practice the necessary skills to make music, it will be largely hit-or-miss as to whether or not you can actually make a piece of music.
You can call yourself a Christian (and remember, God does love you, regardless; His love is not optional here), but if you don’t practice the skills necessary to do live the life that Jesus wants to live within your life, it will be largely hit or miss as to whether you’ll be able to respond with compassion, peace, and love when the time comes.
You can call yourself a decathlete, but if you don’t practice …
(I think you get the point.)
The “training regimen”, or practices that Jesus engaged in are historically called “Spiritual Disciplines.”
“Discipline” has now taken on a largely negative connotation in our culture (being sent to the principal’s office for “discipline”, usually involving—in my day—a swat with a board), but it’s original meaning has much more to do with instruction or knowledge, and even now in some contexts it can still refer to the idea of training yourself to do something in a habitual way.
We want to habitually respond to life the way Jesus would. We want to make it a habit to allow him to reign and rule—to live—in our lives.
The group of training habits and practices (disciplines) are fairly well defined. They include:
There are more, but these are a foundational core. (Actually Dallas Willard would say that an even more essential core would be: prayer, solitude and silence. You can see these lived out constantly in portrait of Jesus’ life that we see in our four gospels.)
This is our training regimen.
This is our practice.
This is the life that we are called to, in order to see the salvation life that God holds out for us.
These two thoughts—that salvation is a life, not an “after-life promise”, and that we are called to actively participate in this life through practice and training—consistently have taken people beyond their circumstances and more deeply into the Kingdom of God. If we let them have a tangible impact on our day-to-day lives, they actually bring about the Kingdom within and among us. Jesus saw it and lived it in his day, and he wants us to know that we can see it and live it in ours as well.
That is a wonderful, subversive, revolutionary invitation, and one that is still desperately needed for the world today.
blessings and peace… as usual, please comment, like and share…
under the mercy