My congregation uses the four 5th Sundays each year to do very unique worship that is children-oriented, lively and engaging. Besides the great benefits to the kids, the congregation gets the benefit of participating in non-traditional worship. I personally love the challenge to stretch my creativity and imagination to come up with a very unique worship service. Its a whole lot of work, time, energy, and thought but well worth everything put into it.
and the prayers we say shape the lives we live,
just as the lives we live shape the prayers we say;
and it all shapes the kingdom which expresses itself in and among us,
and for which we are guerrillas."
(found in introduction of Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder)
I find Loder's words to be right on. There is a mysterious interaction that takes place between earth and heaven, between the divine and the human, between words spoken and actions lived out. Our prayers shape the universe and the universe shapes our prayers.
Along the way I have given up such a view of God and life. In the previous two posts, I have sought to explain a very different understanding of God's Sovereignty and the idea of predestination. Whereas in the past many have considered finding God's will as a scripted life, I have characterized it as the unscripted life. Rather than some script that one must discover each new page, or some sort of cultural script that defines certain accomplishments, possessions, and circumstances as happiness or success, the Jesus follower must live an unscripted life. In the second post, I described the kind of things that our human will and volition should be pointed towards-- that of stewarding ourselves and the process of continually putting off that which burdens and keeps us from living a full life and opening ourselves to the new things that we encounter while following behind Jesus.
I am continually persuaded that God's will is about character rather than circumstances. Such character involves a death to the old ways of life and putting on the life-giving traits of the Spirit. In my last post, Jason Thomley commented on how this process is described in Jeremiah 1 where God gives Jeremiah the two-pronged vocation of tearing down and planting. In Colossians 3, Paul describes this two phased process (that one could probably break-down into much more detailed steps). First, Paul starts out with the primary goal: Set your mind on things that are above (v. 2)! This is like the two greatest commandments of 1) Love God & 2) Love Neighbor that some of you lifted up in your comments on the last post. But like most of us, we look at Paul and say, "Yes, that's right, seek the things that are above... okay, but how do I do that and what does that look like." The same sort of thing happens when Jesus gives the two greatest commands in Luke 10. A religious scholar sly asks, "You have answered correctly, but who is my neighbor?" Just as Jesus provides the story commonly known as the Good Samaritan, Paul lays out some key ideas of what it means to set one's mind on thing above. In verse 5, he says that we must put to death fornication, impurity, passion, and evil desire, as well as, get rid of anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. Then in verse 10, he says that we must clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience while bearing with one another and forgiving one another and having love and thankfulness and peace, and letting the Word of God dwell in you while you sing to God. In verse 18, Paul he gives some practical steps for households. I'm sure if he wasn't working with parchment or papyrus scrolls he might have written more and got more detailed.
What is God's will? I might not be able to give a full answer, but I do know that it starts with character-- with putting to death many things in our lives and clothing ourselves with traits that open up our spirits to Spirit of life.
In my last post, several of you asked plenty of questions and made several statements about choices, plans, being responsible, and free-will. In my language, these all revolve around the idea of faithful stewardship. Instead of attempting a "how to get there" kind of life where we use, abuse, manipulate and scheme, the Jesus journey is one where we consider who we are, what we are carrying, and how we journey. First, it it is to be a light journey where we let go of a lot of baggage and burdens. This is a continual process as we are distracted, tempted, and even good-intentioned along the way to pick up plenty of stuff that we eventually find that we must set down. Second, it is journey where certain resources are vital and necessary. How will we use those resources and plan for their best use along the way? Third, along the way we find ourselves encountering all sorts of opportunities... circumstances to use gifts and talents, to love and be loved, to give and to receive. We look and find ourselves in possession of so many different gifts. We encounter persons and circumstances along the way where these gifts can be used. Plans, choices, and free-will were meant to be used in faithful stewardship along this journey.