Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Imperfect Sainthood: A Spirituality for the Contemporary Church

How do we live out our faith? What does it look like when it is lived out faithfully? These are the questions that theologians of Christian spirituality attempt to answer.

I am not a theologian, though I do pretend to be when I am snugly perched in my burgundy leather armchair. Yet I would like to take a crack at sketching a verbal portrait of the Christian faith as it is lived out on a day to day basis. What are the key tenets of the Christian's daily walk? No, I'm not referring to the length of our quiet times. I'm thinking instead on the principial level (or trying to). What principles drive the daily Christian lives that we lead? Perhaps we'll come across something useful as we think through this together.

We need to start with the fact that we are heavenly. I'm playing fast and free with the English language here, but that's okay--such is the way you play on a blog. By saying we're a heavenly people I mean we are quite literally the "of-heaven" people. We're first and foremost geared toward heaven. It is our preeminent interest, because it is where our Father is, and it is where we will be one day. Unlike the people all around us, we consider heaven to be our true home, and the earth our temporary stomping grounds. Those who do not know Christ know nothing of this mindset, and there is no other alternative to heaven. People don't actually or legitimately think that their true home is Mars. They have no eyes to see spiritual realities, and they do see earth all around them, and so they logically (but tragically) conclude that earth is their true home. And thus it goes. Earth-mindedness directs their choices; informs their worldview; and constitutes both their hope and despair. Like those little Christmas balls with the fake snow that flies around when you shake them, earth is all there is, and life is just a process of calmness and shakings. One day, the ball drops from the sky, and all goes dark, and that's it. The earthly-minded become the earth itself.

Christians know the truth. We know that heaven, not earth, orders our existence. We don't live as the lost do and then punch a few buttons to go to heaven when we die. We don't live the way we desire here and then get kicked up to the clouds. No, we live in profoundly different rhythms than the lost do. We lose our jobs knowing that one day pink slips will disappear. We break our backs to earn money knowing that one day rest and relief will reign. We raise our children with a kingdom in mind, knowing that our responsibilities as parents far exceed the duty of raising responsible, productive citizens of the state. We train our minds in order to unearth the intellectual treasures planted in the soils of terrestrial philosophy. In all these ways and so many more, we reveal ourselves to be a heavenly people, an "of-heaven" people who live every day of our lives as tenants on the planet earth. This is the first tenet of our spirituality. We are just like everyone else--living lives, buying groceries, changing diapers, eating pies. And then, we are nothing like everyone else. We live for another world.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20)

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Velly Intelesting" that you write this on an Election Day in which many professing Christians will, at it's end, cry that the "sky is falling". I wonder how many believers were doing the same in the days of Rome.

We have, in this country, a major citizenship crisis amongst Christians. Judging by the numbers reported recently, many(49%, at least, and 38% of so-called "evangelicals") have seem to forget
where their true home is supposed to be.

Let's hope our brothers and sisters keep this "heavenly" perspective in mind as they wake up this morning and flip on Fox

3:03 AM  
Blogger Dad said...

I believe we are all theologians, true some write books on it, and teach it in universities, but we all have a god of some kind and order our life around that being. Your blog outlined where the believer ought to be. If a 'believer' is not there, they are really following another god, perhaps.

Now, I would tempter this with the idea of spiritual growth, and the ups and downs of our walk. We start out as sinners and are being transformed from glory to glory, but we are not there yet.

So what about all the people, (Brian's percentages), in our churches who are not living their 'faith'. Maybe they are living THEIR faith/theology?

I Cor. 3 speaks of the man who builds a 'church' of wood, hay, straw, etc. I suspect that there is a lot of such buidling material being used today with the results that a lot of theology 'in the church' is not God centered.

This is scary! So, maybe a lot of earthly minded 'believers' never really have come to the fundementals of the faith at all. Therefore, if they leave, they are not fleeing fundementalism, because they never were there in the first place?

Your blog is a good challenge to be heavenly minded. But the church needs to face up to the fact that at lot of 'believers' never become heavenly minded, and follow the teaching of the Word regarding these people and this problem.

Al

3:51 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Question, so what is the heavenly minded Christian to do when "they see the falling sky"? When we, practically speaking, go to/live in a part of town that is/has been deteriating for years and no one is doing anything about it? Please give insight. I have other questions that I need some help with as well, you know where to find me.

7:36 AM  

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