Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Equipping the Saints Pt. 10
Josh continues our ETS discussion today, looking at a passage from Ephesians 5. Paul is encouraging the church in Ephesus, in their call to be light in the world, to be wise -- to not be foolish. How does that apply to us today? What is foolishness now? Maybe it's the badge of busyness we wear. The world is driven by busyness. We are too busy. Are we being wise? Paul's call against "drunkenness" is against the things that intoxicate and inebriate us. When we are lost in our busyness, we do not have the time and space needed to foster depth of relationship with Jesus -- to live like we are filled with the Spirit. Worship redeems the time we think we don't have. It reorients us to what matters. Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs together in community propels us to handle the good and bad that life throws at us. Ephesians 5:10-21; Proverbs 8:1-11.
Josh shared three quotes today:
1) From Richard F. Ward: "Spiritual formation describes an integrated religious life, with balance between contemplation and action, firmly rooted in God's vision for all humanity, and particularly for those who are 'in Christ.' To retrieve this deeper, richer set of meanings for this popular but potentially vacuous construct, the preacher is on the lookout for those biblical texts that will give spiritual formation depth, shape, and definition. You can find one here in this brief exhortation from Ephesians. For one to be 'spiritually formed' as a Christian believer, one is to be mature in one's faith and to be concerned about developing character as a human being. Claiming oneself to be 'formed' or 'mature' is the height of hubris, so we think of ourselves as being in a process of or on a journey toward maturity. Think of these few verses as but one signpost on that path that provides spiritual direction."
2) From Richard F. Ward: "The times are so urgent, so pregnant with possibilities for redemption and transformation, that the church cannot afford to miss its vocation. That is the key to the church acting wisely. When the church is acting contrary to its vocation, it is acting foolishly. ... When the church is out of touch with its vocation, it moves through these evil times as one who is intoxicated -- satiated and reeling, engaging in regrettable behaviors. If a quest for spiritual formation and maturity in the church displays a desire for balance and integration, drunkenness is the condition of being unfocused, off balance, and out of kilter with 'what God wants for you.'
"So how do we fill in the blank? 'The church's vocation is ______.' Imagine the church's vocation as a great series of interpretive images set in stained glass and put on display. Within that display, we see an image found in this little blip of a text from Ephesians. Here is the church 'filled with the Spirit.' And what does that look like? A group of folks like you and me, on the path toward formation and maturity, 'singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs' that rise out of grateful hearts."
3) From Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald May: "I must confess I am no longer good at telling the difference between good things and bad things. Of course, there are many events in human history that can only be labeled as evil, but from the standpoint of inner individual experience, the distinction has become blurred for me. Some things start out looking great but wind up terribly, while other things seem bad in the beginning but turn out to be blessings in disguise .... I also feel that the dark night of the soul reveals an even deeper divine activity: a continually gracious, loving, and fundamentally protective guidance through all human experience -- the good as well as the bad."
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