A story of Law and Grace
With a mule.
They capture me.
Take me into a dungeon.
Make me dig.
I break free.
Shove them into an abyss
Including their little black dog.
Ignoring their screams for help.
I open the steel door and lock it behind me.
Then turn a corner in the corridor.
There is another door up ahead.
I am always escaping, but never free.
Then I meet Jesus.
He sends me back down.
I don’t want to go.
But I obey.
It seems to take forever.
I finally get to the last door.
I look inside.
I see the tormented soul in the ditch.
It is me.
Spiritual Maturity: Thanks
God made all of us on purpose. We are happy when we obey that purpose. We become happier the better we understand and live out that purpose.
We share many purposes with other people, because God made us the same:
- Our bodies are happy when we eat healthy, rest well, and use them as they were intended.
- Our souls are happy when experience beauty.
- Our minds are happy when we discover truth.
- Our hearts are happy when we share love.
Joy is happiness of the spirit. It is the deepest and most important kind of happiness. But there are two very different ways our spirits can be happy.
Holiness: Open to God
Lots of people admire Jesus. Even those who aren’t Christians often consider him a model for how human beings should treat each other.
Last time we talked about skills that help us become more like Jesus. So why doesn’t everyone practice those skills? Why do we ourselves often do the opposite of what Jesus wants us to do?
Because we have a wound in our spirit.
In Which We Deny Our Bodies to Nurture Our Souls
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:10
While gluttony primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food, here we will define it more broadly as “seeking to satisfy our souls by indulging the appetites of the flesh.” This is in contrast to self-control, which is the ability to align the actions of our body with the desires of the spirit.
Importantly, for a Christian self-control is ultimately about being controlled by God’s Spirit; in fact, God sometimes lets us fall into sins of the flesh to teach us not to trust in our own willpower!
This is also why those who undergo persecution are considered “blessed”, or “lucky”, as it is obvious to them that they can’t pursue physical comfort and the kingdom of heaven at the same time.
For the rest of us, alas, the temptation is far more subtle…
Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue
- 13. Courage under Persecution vs. Self-indulgence
- Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
- 3.1 (Self-control) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue
In Which Our Character is Conformed to God’s Name, Via The Pursuit of Wisdom
In our first twelve-week series on Theological Foundations, we focused on what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit“, moving from sin to sanctification as the body of Christ entering into His Kingdom.
In this our second series, we focus on how we can appropriate that “name” in our own lives — as well as those of the people we lead and serve. This is the essence of Christian Character, the second leg of our “LEAD” tripod (the third and final one being “Skills for Service”, coming in Spring 2009).
The goal of character formation is to bring our “whole person” into alignment with the “whole name” of God — His identity, character, and purpose. We can define the whole person using the “triplet” model below, which has:
- Our Spirit at the center…
- … working through our Heart, Soul and Mind… (cf. Mark 12:30)
- … which together produce Emotions, Reasons, and Decisions…
- … that manifest in actions of our Body
While all models are imperfect, and there are many other ways to picture the human psyche
, this diagram will help us understand the role of Wisdom in character formation — and how we fall short…