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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fleming, D.(2004)Leadership Wisdom from Unlikely Voices: People of Yesterday Speak to Leaders of Today 

You don't dominate fire in its natural form. You tend it and perhaps give it some direction-but unless you're trying to extinguish it, fire will not be tamed. This is why so many leaders cannot appreciate or benefit from the way of fire; they want to control and dominate in order to compensate for their own insecurities. These are pre-fire Nolands who get frustrated when the fire will not yield-but they fail to realize it's not the fire that yields to the leader, but the leader who yields to the fire. 28

Too many leaders never make these choices and therefore fall prey to a status quo that leaves them as uninspired taskmasters who thirst for little more than a paycheck. The riches of the moment are lost on the safety of doing more of the same 30

The conversation around vision and values over the last few decades has, in fact, been an attempt to establish at one level a corporate --,lorate or organizational rule. 'The problem with this discussion at it has too often focused on vision and values as if they were the end game. Instead, 1 would suggest that vision and values, like good rule, comprise the first order change space necessary for -- communal life and endeavor to emerge. What if we used Nouwen's words in this way: An organizational rule is not so much about the way you discover the Ife of your organization as it is how you allow that v to thrive within your community. 35

Emergent leaders must be aware and humbled by the reality that they have been called into the story. And that overall sense of destiny informs any given present moment. Without this kind of ongoing enlightenment of the story, leaders fall prey to the demands of tasks and the whims of the moment. But when the larger story of destiny is the backdrop, wisdom and perspective can emerge in the moment. 68

This is the kind of inspiration people are hungry to receive from leaders. They want leaders who invite them to the journey by first living an authentic calling in front of them. They want leaders who challenge them to surrender further into the story and not be afraid. 70

Leadership vision, therefore, is first the ability to notice what is" as well as "what could be." This is exactly what Merton did that day he was riding the train through Long Island. He saw the sign in a new way~specifically in relationship to everything else around. Seer-like vision is concerned with attending to before moving on to creating new environments or processes. the present moment yields important clues about the future. Because leaders are forward thinkers, they tend to not reflect on "what is." Leaders who rarely journal what they see in their personal lives or in their communal endeavors run the risk of missing the present reality right before their very eyes. To miss "what is" frequently leads to a misperception or a skewed perception of "what could be." This is critical to leaders' personal journeys as well as to their communal journeys. When leaders don't notice their personal 74

Now a fuller picture of the leader-seer comes about. Leaders who see only the people will miss the purposes that act as threads weaving them together. They may also be distracted by the whims of followers or their insecurities. Conversely, leaders who see only the possibilities will miss the truth that the greatest fulfillment is always human synergy. Therefore, the leader must learn to cultivate what Warren Bennis calls the "management of attention"" at every level of the community's relational web and purpose. 75

They help others to become their original selves with potency This principle has been lost on leaders who view things oppositely~ as if everyone is around to help them. Wrong. Leaders should be chief developmental officers-that is, the primary nurturing officers. That's why 1 agree with Tom Peters when he says the next century belongs to leaders who lead like women. (1 would add that women will probably be the best leaders in the next century because of how important meaningful, connective relationships will be to the emerging church, as well as to the emerging economy.) 84

Self-Absorption: The Two Sides of Pride

The potential for pride is ever-present among leaders. And selfaggrandizement will ruin originality, creativity, and service. Leaders, like most others on the planet, are lured into pride by either over- or under- aggrandizement. I like to call it the "woe is me/wow is me" syndrome. Some leaders become ineffective because they're forever wounded and emotionally hurt by events or people. Their position gives them platforms to draw others into their pain in unhealthy ways. When this happens, energy is drained because all attention is focused on the leader. And that's exactly where attention should not be focused. Remember, leaders help.

Other leaders are inflicted with the other side of the pride syndrome: "wow is me!' These leaders over-aggrandize self and position. All attention is on them, not because they are wounded,, but because they are presumptuous. They really believe what they do and say is most important, and they minimize anything that does not support this belief. Again, this saps energy because the only energy allowed is energy that sustains the desires of the leader. This leads to tremendous blind spots and missed opportunities for^ the team. 'There's just no room or energy for anything else. 86

Professional Will creates super results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great; Personal Humility demonstrates a compelling modesty, shuns public adulation, and is never boastful Professional Will demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter bow difficult; Personal Humility acts with quiet, calm determination; relies on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma*, to motivate. Professional Will sets the standard of building an enduring great company and will settle for nothing less; Personal Humility channels ambition into the company, not the self and sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation. Professional Will looks in the mirror, not the window to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck; Personal Humility looks out the window, not the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company-to other people and good luck.` (*I would add "an inspiring life. ')94

Exceptional cultural leaders are interested in their own hearts and in the formation that occurs there. And from that place of personal heart, they bring influence to bear on their teams or communities.


Nouwen ties the concepts of friendship and together in a beautiful manner:

Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free
space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead
Of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer
them a space where change can take place ... The paradox of
hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful
emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter
and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own
songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances...
Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the lifestyle of the
host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.`


formative reading – Lectio divina 177


Friday, July 07, 2006

Willard, D(2002)Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ 

1. Spiritual formation: the issues
2. Spiritual formation and the church
3. The heart in the system of human life
4. Spiritual transformation
5. Transforming the mind: the thought life
6. Transforming the mind: sensation and emotion
7. Transforming will and character
8. Transforming the body
9. Transforming our social dimension
10. Transforming the soul
11. The children of light and the light of the world

The central cause of our current situation (Why SF)

What characterizes most of our congregations, whether big or small is simple distraction. The failures of many kinds that show up within them and around them are not the fundamental problem of church life today. They are much more a result than a cause.

One of the most helpful statements I have read in recent years for understanding contemporary church life is by Leith Anderson. He notes:

While the New Testament speaks often about churches, it is surprisingly
silent about many matters that we associate with church structure and life.
There is no mention of architecture, pulpits, lengths of typical sermons,
rules for having a Sunday school. Little is said about style of music, order of
worship, or times of church gatherings. There were no Bibles, denomin-
ations, camps, pastors' conferences, or board meeting minutes. Those who
strive to be New Testament churches must seek to live its principles and
absolutes, not reproduce the details.

Those details simply aren't given.

Now you might ask yourself why the New Testament says nothing about all those matters to which the usual congregation devotes most of its thought and effort today. And the answer is, because those matters are not primary, and will take care of themselves with little attention whenever what is primary is appropriately cared for. Pay attention to the 'principles and absolutes' of the New Testament church and everything else will fall into place - in large part because 1 everything else' really doesn't matter much one way or the other. If we fail to put the focus on those principles and absolutes, on the other hand, we will wander off into a state of distraction. And that is where most of our local congregations actually are. They wind up majoring on minors and allowing the majors, from the New Testament point of view, to disappear.


The individual's life is often divided into incoherent fragments. Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control (Prov 25:28). In a world deeply infected with evil and ,stuff' that just happens, the usual case is that the individual does not consistently do what his or her own heart says is good and right. When successful, spiritual reformation unites the divided heart and life of the individual, and such people can then bring remarkable harmony into the groups where they participate.


Each aspect or dimension of the person will be a source of weakness or strength to the whole person, depending upon the condition it is in, and the condition it is in will depend, finally, upon the heart. A person who is prepared and capable of responding to the situations of life in ways that are good and right is a person whose soul is in order, under the direction of a well-kept heart, under the direction of God.


So for us, it is above all the spirit or will, that must be reached, cared for, and transformed in spiritual formation. The human will is primarily what must be given a godly nature, and this must then expand its governance over the entire personality.


I will not immediately be able to do what Jesus would do if my inner being is filled with all the thoughts, feelings and habits that characterize the world which denies God. But if 1 intend to obey Jesus Christ, 1 will intend and decide to become the kind of person who would obey and be like Jesus. The means to that end are not all directly under my control, for some are the actions of God toward me and in me. But some are directly under my control.

1 can retrain mv thinking by study and meditation on Christ

Spiritual formation must transform ideas

The apostle Paul warned the Ephesians that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against thepowers ofthis dark world and against the spiritualfo rces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). These powers and forces are spiritual agencies that work with the idea-systems of evil. Ideas are their main tool for dominating humanity. Christian spiritual reformation is a matter of recognizing in ourselves the idea-systems of evil. The needed transformation is very largely a matter of replacing evil ideas with the ideas that Jesus embodied and taught, and with the culture of the kingdom of God. Paul tells Christians that God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Col 1: 13). So, he urges, your attitude should be the same as that of Christ jesus (Phil 2:5). And he writes to the Romans, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2). This is Christian spiritual formation.

Changing ideas, whether those of an individual or a group, is difficult and painful. Genuine conversion is a wrenching experience. It involves the breaking down of a worldview and the acceptance of a different set of ideas. It can cause deep damage to the most intimate of relationships, as Jesus warned (Luke 12:51-53). It can seem like madness or wickedness, precisely because it goes against what every~ body takes for granted. And in many parts of the world Christians are persecuted today because they threaten the dominant idea-system of their culture. Jesus himself confronted and undermined an ideasystem and was killed for it. But he proved himself greater than any local idea-system. Indeed, his ideas transcend specific cultures because they constitute a complete and consistent worldview. The idea-system of Jesus works anywhere, anytime. But it involves radical change.



Closely associated with ideas are images. Images are usually concrete, and they frequently associate a perception with an emotion. They work by using ideas. The image of a small human being standing in front of, and defying, a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square is imprinted on the memories of many. The contrast of frail humanity and mechanized power is stark. But clearly this is an image that has an entirely different impact from that of a photograph of a child standing beside a tank at a local army base open day. For people in the West, it stands for indomitable humanity, the courage of a lone man against the power of an oppressive regime; democracy resists totalitarianism, the individual affirms life against anonymous, mechanized means of death. For people in the East, the image almost certainly has different overtones.

Jesus understood the significance of images and used them in his parables: for a Jewish audience, a wealthy man's son reduced to feeding pigs was an image not only of financial destitution but also of spiritual destitution. Jesus also used an image that brilliantly conveys both something of himself and his message: the cross. The cross represents the paradox of Jesus' sacrifice - the death that brings life, the triumph of God in the frailty of human flesh. For their own benefit, Jesus' followers need to keep the image of the cross vividly present in their minds.


Henri Nouwen notes:

Success, popularity and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of a much larger temptation of self-rejection. We have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions ... Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the 'Beloved'. Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.

Taking this idea, this profound truth, to heart is an important step towards reorienting our lives. The gospel of Jesus is the only complete answer to the false and destructive ideas and images that control life without God. The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing destructive ideas and images with the images and ideas of Jesus himself.

Two other factors in our thought life can be used by God to break the power of the toxic system of ideas and images that make us dead to God


The crucial role of good thinking today

Now this is tremendously important for us today. Perhaps we are in a time when it is more important than ever before. To serve God well we must think straight. Crooked thinking, intentional or not, always favours evil. And when the crooked thinking gets elevated into orthodoxy, whether religious or secular, it always costs lives.


When God is exalted and revered in the minds of people, and his very name is cherished with utmost respect, the world is in its proper order. And when we pray that prayer, our lives are in proper order.

The effect of putting God first in our thoughts will be the transformation of our entire life. Everything else that enters our mind, and our reaction to the unexpected things that we encounter, will be properly ordered. The conclusions we reach will be in harmony with the realities of a God-governed universe. When 1 do a job, 1 will do it with God's power; when 1 face an emergency, 1 will meet it knowing that God is in it 'with me; if 1 am praised or reproached, elated or frustrated, 1 can be sure that God is over all, and that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28).

There are, however, several pitfalls in this area which should be noted and guarded against.

First is pride.

Second is simple ignorance of fact.

Third alloowing our desires to control our thinking

Fourth - images we admit into our minds

Demolish - 2 Cor 10:4-5


Choice -

In the course of events, however, Tolstoy became involved in the life of the Russian peasants. He says:

I saw that the whole life of these people was passed in heavy labor, and that they were content with life ... And they all - endlessly different in their manners, minds, education, and position, as they were - all alike, in complete contrast to my ignorance, knew the meaning of life and death, labored quietly, endured deprivations and sufferings, and lived and died seeing therein not vanity but good. (p. 57)

The peasants whom Tolstoy admired were not yet swallowed up by the directionless choices of the modern world. They had solid traditions of faith and community that provided a meaningful form of life and death.


Destructive Feelings...

1 the prison of resentment' pp90

sometimes have deeply destructive feelings. jarnes pointedly asks, What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don'tget it. You killand covet, butyou cannot have what you want. You quarrel andfight Jas 4:1-2). And elsewhere he points out that whereyou have envy and slfish ambition, thereyoufind disorder and every evilpractice (jas 3:16).

the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (9: 10). Then, hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs (10:12), and a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (14:30). And again, the cheerful heart has a continual feast (15:15), and a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (17:22). This is a book which makes very clear distinctions between feelings that are good and life enriching, and feelings that are destructive. 92

How can we deal with feelings? This is a vital question fo formation. We all have destructive feelings sometimes. The answer to these destructive feelings is not to deny that we have them or try to repress them. We should not, of course, dump them on others by acting them out. But the answer to our problem is not repression. The proper course of action is to replace destructive feelings with others that are good, or to subordinate them intelligently to a rational order so that they become constructive. 92

The process of spiritual formation in Christ will transform our feelings by grace. 92

Healthy feelings, properly ordered among themselves, are essential to a good life. So if we are to be formed in ChristWeness we must take good care of our feelings and not just let them happen. Feelings can be regulated by ordered, godly habits and self-control. 93

A first step is to desire sincerely feelings that lead away from sin. 94

What the are the feelings that will dominate in a life inwardly transformed to be like Christs 95

Ro 5:1-5

1 jo 2:16 pride and boasting not of love

The positive movement into love, joy and peace, based on faith and hope in God, eliminates the destructive feelings, or at least eliminates them as governing factors in our life. We do not go at the change the other way around, trying first to root out the destructive feelings. That is the common mistake of worldly wisdom and of much 'religion' on such matters. But we know that life in Christ brings the fruit of the Spirit, and destructive feelings, and actions, will be replaced. Love, joy and peace fostered in fellowship with God simply crowd out fear, anger, unsatisfied desire, woundedness, rejection. There is no longer room for them. Well, perhaps there is for a while, but increasingly less so. 104

will and character

We know that such people will have a thought life centred on God in his goodness and greatness, and therefore on truth. Also, they will be dominated by the rich array of positive feelings that naturally accompany love, joy and peace, along with their foundational conditions of faith and hope. 108

So here we have the answer to our question: a will transformed into Christlikeness is single-minded and joyous in devotion to God and his will. That is the outcome of Christian spiritual formation with reference to the will, heart or spirit. And this becomes our character when it is the governing response of every aspect of our being.

But how far this is from the usual human will and character! Instead of being simple and transparent through a constant devotion to God, the usual human will is chaotically duplicitous and confused, the playing field of pride and fear, shrouded in layer upon layer of destructive habits. 111

The desire for good implanted in the human will by its Creator is corrupted, and has turned against itself as a result of self-deification. The question 'What good can 1 do?' is replaced by 'How can 1 get my way?' Manipulation, deception and malice replace transparency, sincerity and goodwill, as exaltation of self replaces submission and service to God. In modern thought sincerity is merely self-deception. 112

There are some quite distinct stages in the identification of our will with God's. First there is surrender. When we surrender our will to God we consent to his supremacy in all things. Perhaps we do so grudgingly. We recognize his supremacy intellectually, 116

But if grace and wisdom prevail in the lives of those who surrender to God's will, they will move on to abandonment. Then they will no longer hold back any part of themselves from God's will. Surrender now covers all of life, not just intellectual assent to the truth about God and his commandments. 117

Beyond abandonment is contentment with the will of God: not only with his being who he is and ordaining what he has ordained in general, but with the particular lot that he has given to us. At this point gratitude and joy are the steady tenor of our life. 117

Beyond contentment lies intelligent,energetic participation in accomplishing God's will in the world. We are no longer spectators, but are caught up in a vivid and eternal drama in which we play an essential part.

Our primary, practical aim in freeing ourselves from entanglement must be to overcome duplicity. And to overcome it we must become conscious of it and confront it, and take appropriate steps toward integrity. 120


Spiritual transformation into Christlikeness is the process of forming the inner world of the person in such a way that it takes on the character of Jesus himself. The result is that the outer life of the individual increasingly becomes a natural expression of the reality of Jesus and of his teachings. Doing what he said and did increasingly becomes a part of who we are. pp125

So we begin to experience destructive emotions, especially fear, anger, envy, jealousy and resentment. These may in time develop into settled attitudes of hostility, contempt or indifference. Such attitudes make us ready to harm others' or to see them suffer, and these attitudes quickly settle into my body. They become more or less overt tendencies to act without thinking 127

The proper retraining and nurturing of the body is absolutely essential to Christlikeness. The body is not just physical thing. As it matures it increasingly takes on the quality of its inner life. The body of a child, by contrast, has little 'interiority' to it, which is why the child can really hide nothing. The body as it matures increasingly reflects the source from which our life flows.

The outcome of spiritual formation is the transformation of the inner reality of the self in such a way that the deeds and words of Jesus become a natural expression of who we are. But it is the nature of the human being that the inner reality of the self settles into the body, and then works outwards. Formed in sin, our character and body are set against God and God's ways, and, as we look about us" we find them running pretty much on their own.

eg tongue Jas 3:5

Other members of the body, though not as central to life as the tongue, have their own tendencies and associated feelings to act wrongly:

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Prov 6:17-18)

The eyes, the stomach and the genitals, the fists and the face, the feet and the tongue, are constantly moving us away from God, if they have not been permeated by the real presence of Christ.

A person caught up in rage or lust or resentment - or religious self-righteousness, for that matter - is basically one whose body has taken over and is running their actions or even their life.

As a matuer and competent individual, I am responsible for teh care of my body, and it is the centre of all the other responsibilities I have. 136

Magdalen, M A Spiritual Check up: avoiding mediocrity in th eChristian life. 138

So, now, in approaching the spiritual formation of our body, what should we do? Here are a number of things:

1. We must actually release our bodies to God. That is what Paul means when he tells us to offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (Rom 12: 1). It needs to be a definite action, renewed as appropriate, perhaps on a yearly basis. You will not drift into this position before God, and you will not, without decisive action, stay there. 139

2. No longer idolize your body. That means that you no longer make it an object of ultimate concern. You have, after all, now given it up to God and he can do with it as he wishes. You have taken your hands off the controls, and the outcomes are in God's hands. You care for it only as it serves God's purposes in your life and the lives of others. You don't worry about what will happen to it - sickness, aging, death - for you have put God in charge of all that, and any issues that arise in this area you take up with him in prayer. You take good care of your body, but only within the framework of values clearly laid down by God and exemplified in Jesus Christ. You don't live in fear of your body and what it might do to you. 140

3. Closely allied with the above is that you do not misuse your body. This means primarily two things: you do not use it as a source of improper sensual gratification, and you do not use it to dominate or manipulate others. Addictions of various kinds result from seeing sensual gratification as a necessity. These are misuses of the body. Bodily pleasure is not in itself a bad thing, but when it is exalted to a necessity and we become dependent upon it, then we are slaves of our body and its feelings.

The second thing this means is that we do not use our bodies to dominate or control others. This has different implications for different people. For example, we do not present our bodies in ways that elicit sexual thoughts, feelings and actions from others. We do not try to be sexy. We can be naturally attractive without that. This might ultimately be a fatal blow to the fashion industry and to other large segments of the economy, but we have to leave them to look after themselves. Another example on this point has to do with intimidation by means of our body. There are many aspects of this, up to and including brute force. The most common forms of it are social: gossip, sarcasm, knowing looks and remarks, even jokes. Having given up our body to God, we do not then use it or its parts in these ways.

A final example, for the moment, is overwork. In our current world this is a primary misuse of the body. It is now said that work is the new drug of choice. Often this is associated with competitiveness and trying to beat others in some area of life. Sometimes this is a matter of wearing our body out in order to succeed, perhaps in circumstances that we regard as imposed upon us by others. It is still a misuse of the body, and a failure to work things out with God.

4. The positive counterpart of the remarks just made is that the body is to be properly honoured and cared for. The first step in this direction follows from what has already been said. That is, the body is to be regarded as holy, because it is owned and inhabited by God.

Of course that means it will be withheld from engagement in what is wrong. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body (1 Cor 6:13). Do you not know, Paul goes on, that your bodies are members of Christ himself Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? (6:15). The answer is obvious, as obvious as whether or not you should kick a sleeping baby. Of course not! Never! is Paul's response. But that is equally true of theft , lying and violence, once you think of it. Any part of the body of Christ is too holy for that.

But because it is holy we will also properly care for it: nourish, exercise and rest it. The way to care properly for your body is shown in God's provision of the Sabbath.

So when we come to deal with spiritual formation of our social dimension, we have to start from woundedness. It is hard to imagine anyone in this world who has not been deeply injured in their relationships by others. The exact nature of the poison of sin in our social dimension is fairly easy to describe, though extremely hard to deal with. It has two forms. They are so closely related that they really are two forms of the same thing, of lovelessness, lack of proper regard and care for others. These two forms are assault or attack and withdrawal or distancing. They are so much a part of ordinary life that most people think they are just normal, and never imagine that we could live without them.

If spiritual formation in Christ is to succeed, the power of these two forms of evil in our own lives must be broken. So far as it is possible, they must be eliminated as attitudes we take toward others. They must be disarmed. And they must he eliminated in our social environment, especially in the fellowship of Christ's followers.

Failure to love others as Jesus loves us chokes off the flow of eternal life that our whole human system cries out for. The old apostle does not mince words: Anyone who does not love remains in death (1 John 3:14). Notice that he does not say 'anyone who hates', but simply anyone who does not love. The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.

in order to do our part in the process of spiritual formation we must identify and understand what is wrong in our relations with others, whether that wrong is coming from us or toward us, and how it can be changed.

Assault comes first primarily from conflicts of desire. The child wants something that another has. It does what it can to take that thing away from the other. But the other resists, and the children involved become angry with each other. They therefore try to harm each other.

Or perhaps they experience envy, and are displeased with one another because of that. Perhaps there is a status that one enjoys and the other does not. Feelings of resentment and contempt may arise and play back and forth between them. As they grow older, theft, lying, murder, adultery and settled attitudes of covetousness fall into place. These are all forms of assault on others.

Now we can see immediately that spiritual formation in Christ will mean becoming people who do not want to, and therefore do not, assault others. Of course the overall teaching of the Bible about assault is much more profound and subtle than just these six commandments, which can be regarded as the rock-bottom essentials for right relations with others. But there are many ways of assaulting people, and these merge into our other category of wrong in relationships, withdrawal.

Here are four major elements in the spiritual formation of our social dimension.

Receiving God's vision

The first main element in the transformed social dimension is for individuals to come to see themselves whole, as God sees them. Such a vision allows them to see beyond the wounds and limitations of their past relationships with others.

It is the God-given vision of ourselves as complete in him that draws all the poison from our relationships with others, and enables us to go forward with sincere forgiveness and blessing toward them. Only in this way can we stand, free of the wounds of the past and free from bitterness toward those who have assaulted or forsaken us.

The second element in transforming our social dimension is for us to abandon all defensiveness. This can occur only in a social context where Christ dwells, that is, among his special people. But it would occur naturally in the absence of attack and withdrawal.

This abandonment of defensiveness includes a willingness to be known in our most intimate relationships for who we really are. It includes abandonment of self-justification, evasiveness and deceit, as well as manipulation. That is not to say we should impose all the facts about ourselves upon those close to us, much less on others. Of course we shouldn't. But it does mean that we do not hide from reality, and we do not adopt strategies for making ourselves look good.

And then all pretence would vanish from our lives. That is the third element in the spiritually transformed social dimension. Love between Christians would then be genuine.

Romans 12:1-21.

1 . Letting love be completely real.
2. Rejecting what is evil.
3. Clinging to what is good.
4. Being devoted to one another in love.
5. Outdoing one another in giving honour.
6. Serving the Lord with zeal.
7. Rejoicing in hope.
8. Being patient in affliction.
9. Being devoted to prayer.
10. Contributing to the needs of the saints.
11. Practising hospitality.
12. Blessing persecutors and not cursing them.
13. Being joyful with those who are joyful and being sorrowful with
those in sorrow.
14. Living in harmony with each other.
15. Not being proud, but associating with people in low positions.
16. Not seeing oneself as wise.
17. Never repaying evil for evil.
18. Having due regard for what everyone takes to be right.
19. Being at peace with everyone.
20. Never taking revenge, but leaving that to God.
21. Providing for needy enemies.
22. Not being overwhelmed by evil, but overwhelming evil with


The fourth element is an opening up of our social dimension to redemption. Not having the burden of defending and securing ourselves, and acting now from the resources of our new life in God, we can devote our lives to the service of others. This is not just a matter of not attacking or withdrawing. Redemption will naturally and rightly be chiefly focused in blessing those closest to us, beginning with our family members, and moving out from there. 166


What is running your life at the moment is your soul 170

When we speak of the human soul, then, we are speaking of the deepest level of life and power in the hman bveing 175

Antinomian - means against the law, disregard it.

Now you have only to think for a moment to see what a disaster this will be for spiritual formation and the development of character. It amounts to rejecting it entirely, except in so far as it may be done to you or for you by God, without your effort. And you have only to glance briefly at the behaviour of professing Christians currently to realize the practical outcome of holding the law, and obedience to the law, to be irrelevant to the life of faith in Christ.

Crisis ho;iness?

Children of lght

Thought life. Perhaps the first thing we notice when we get to know their inner life is what they think about, or what is on their mind. They think about God. He is never out of their mind. They love to dwell upon God and upon his greatness and loveliness, as brought to light in Jesus Christ. They adore him in nature, in history, in his Son and in his saints. One could even say they are 'God-intoxicated' (Acts 2:13; Eph 5:18), though no-one has a stronger sense of reality and practicality than they do. Their mind is filled with biblical ideas of God's nature, actions, and his plans for the world. They do not dwell upon evil. It is not a big thing in their thoughts. They are sure of its defeat, but they still deal with it appropriately in specific situations.

Feelings. And then perhaps we notice - and small wonder given what has already been observed - that the emotional life of these children of light is characterized by love. That is how they invest their emotions. They love lots of good things and they love people. They love their life and who they are. They are thankful for their life, even though it may contain many difficulties, even persecution (Matt 5:10-12). They receive all of it as God's gift, or at least as his allowance, and they know his goodness and greatness will outlast any trouble they might have, and that they will live with him forever. And so joy and peace are with them even in the hardest of times, even when they suffer unjustly. Because of what they have learned about God they are confident and hopeful and do not indulge thoughts of rejection, failure and hopelessness.

Will. Looking a little deeper we find that these children of light are devoted to doing what is good and right. Their will is habitually attuned to it, just as their mind and emotions are habitually homing in on Gad. They are attentive to rightness, to kindness, to helpfulness; and they find out about what people need, and try to do what is right and good in appropriate ways.

These are people who do not think first of themselves and what they want. and they really care very little about getting their own way. Paul wrote, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:3-4), and these are easy and good instructions to them. They are abandoned to God's will and do not struggle and deliberate as to whether they will do what they know to be wrong. They do not hesitate to do what they know to be right. It is the obvious thing to do.

Body. That, of course, involves their bodies. Their body has been, trained to do good. It is constantly prepared to do what is right and good without thinking. And that also means that it does not automatically move into what is wrong, even contrary to their resolves and intentions before they can think.

Consequently, we do not see them always being trapped by what their tongue, facial expressions, eyes, hands, and so on have already done before they can think. For their body and its parts are consecrated to serve God and are habituated to being his holy instruments. These people instinctively avoid the paths of temptation. There is a freshness about them, a kind of quiet strength, and a transparency. They are rested and playful in a bodily strength that is
from God. He who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead has given life to their bodies through his Spirit who dwells in them.

Social relations. In their relationships with others they are completely transparent. Because they walk in goodness they have no use for deceit, and they achieve real contact or fellowship with others, especially other apprentices of Jesus. (1 John 1:7 and 2:10). These people do not conceal their thoughts and feelings, though they do not impose them upon every~ one. Because of their confidence in God they do not try to manipulate and manage others. Needless to say, in their social contexts they do not go on the attack, intending to use or to hurt others.

Soul, Finally, as you come to know these people, you see that all of the above is not just at the surface. It is deep, and, in a certain sense, it is effortless. It flows. That is, the things we have been describing are not things the children of light are constantly trying hard to do, gritting their teeth. Rather, these are features of life that well up out of souls which are at home in God.

(We might cite in this connection Rom 12:1-21; 1 Cor 13; 2 Cor 3:12 - 7:1; Gal 5:22 - 6:10; Eph 4:20 - 6:20; Phil 2:3-16 and 4:4-9; Col 3:1 - 4:6; 1 Pet 2:1 - 3:16; 2 Pet L2-1 0; 1 John 4:7-2 L), Perhaps Micah 6:8 could serve well as an Old Testament point of ref-"" erence. Deuteronomy 10:12-21 would also serve. 1 urge the reader to plan a full day in silent retreat to read and reread these passages meditatively.

Another of Paul's dark passages is 2 Timothy 3:2-5. Speaking of the last days, when evil on earth will have had time to 'ripen', he says that people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self--control brutal not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God They will be religious in lifestyle, but will deny all that is genuine in it: having a form of godliness but denying its power.

Now we know from Jesus' teachings that all of these defiling things come out of a sick and rebellious heart (Mark 7:21-23).

Mat 5
1 Co 13
Col 3
1 Jo 4
2 Peter 1:3-11

An excellent contemporary writer, Wayne Grudem, opens his discussion of sanctification by describing it as

a part of the application of redemption that is a progressive work that continues throughout our earthly lives. It is also a work in which God and man cooperate, each playing distinct roles. This part of the application of redemption is called sanctification: Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.


Sanctification is a consciously chosen and sustained relationship of interaction between the Lord and his apprentices, in which the apprentices are able routinely to do what they know to be right before God because all aspects of their person have been substantially transformed. Sanctification applies primarily to the moral and religious life, but extends to the practical life as well.

Sanctification is not an experience, though experiences of various kinds may be involved in it. It is not a status, though a status is maintained by means of it. It is not an outward form, and has no essential connection with outward forms. It does, however, become a 'track record' and a system of habits. It comes about through the process of spiritual formation, through which the heart of the individual, and the whole inner life, takes on the character of Jesus. 197


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