I'm back to writing about spiritual formation. I mentioned in an earlier post that I recently taught a six-week class exploring the spiritual disciplines. The integrity of such a class rests on (at least) these two premises:
- There is a gap between the mature Christian state we are called to, and the state in which most of us Christians currently find ourselves.
- God does not zap us into that maturity without our cooperation; we have a role to play.
The gap-premise seems obvious from the letters of Paul to the Christians of those early churches, and this is distinct from what is called justification in most of the the classical theological systems. This latter idea has been emphasized too much in my opinion. I suppose there is some change in standing with God, some legal transaction that occurs, when I repent and my sins are forgiven. But when I read the Bible, the overall emphasis seems rather to be on where I'm going once I've repented (literally, "turned").
If as a non-Christian I am running away from the Kingdom of God, when I repent, I stop and turn around. But if I just stand there looking, I'm not entering the Kingdom. So, if the goal is for us to enter that Kingdom fully by having everything in our lives go the way the king want them to be going, most of us have a ways to go. That is to say, there is a gap between where we are and where we are called to be.
Tomorrow: the N0-Zap-Premise.