c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: Spirituality and Jesus

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spirituality and Jesus

The Apostle Paul wrote in the context of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:45) that Jesus “became a life-giving spirit.”  Elsewhere Paul wrote about the nature of the new covenant in Christ, saying that it is not a written code but "in the Spirit" and concludes:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Spiritual formation is defined in the passage immediately above.  It is to be changed into his likeness.  The goal is to become like Jesus in his spirituality.  John wrote (1 John 4:17), “as he is so are we in this world.”

In order to achieve this goal one can use two sets of theory, one of time and one of purpose or task, that correspond to one another as a kind of PERT chart.  PERT means progress effectiveness reporting technique.  The beginning of one’s walk with Christ can be used for purposes of in-formation.  New converts that undergo instruction have been called catechumens.  They were not baptized until they were sufficiently informed of the basic doctrines of the Church.

The middle part of one’s life in Christ can be devoted to trans-formation, or the change referred to above.  Frankly, the change that the New Testament envisions in the middle part is form sinner to saint, through a process of sanctification, or becoming holy, cleansing your life from sin.

The profound change that God is looking for in his people is the hard part of being a Christian because it involves suffering.  Suffering is required because it frees the spiritual aspects of our being from the weaknesses, desires, demands, and bondage of the flesh, our bodies.  Jesus became a life-giving spirit because his earthly body died on the cross.  Some argue that, no, he had a body when he was raised.  Thomas saw his wounds and saw him.  He spoke to Mary Magdalene in the garden and ate breakfast with Peter and John.  But what kind of body can go through walls and appear behind locked doors?  The resurrection of Christ has introduced a great mystery into the world so that Paul speaks of it as a “spiritual body” with a different “kind of glory” than we now understand (1Corinthians 15:44 and 40-41).  Our glory is to be like Jesus in his spirituality in this world.  John wrote (1 John 3:2), “Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

That brings us to the last stage of life as a Christian, the end, when con-formity results.  This is not a rigid, legalistic, guilt-ridden existence.  It is conformity to one that is free, for remember, the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

Nonetheless it is important, for purposes of in-formation, to set out the goal, though it may seem far, far away at any given moment:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. –Romans 8:29

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. –Romans 12:1-2

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." –1 Peter 1:14-16

A word about the PERT chart analogy: there are two words in Greek that refer to time, chronos and kairos.  Chronos refers to specific measures of time.  A watch is called a chronograph, for instance, and is a highly engineered mechanical device that corresponds to the rotation of the planet by an arbitrary human convention of dividing the day into hours and minutes and seconds.  Calendars measure that kind of time, too, with beginning and ending dates of the same.  While not completely divorced from chronological time kairos refers to more indistinct time periods, like seasons or, as used here, stages of growth.  One might even call kairos emotional time because it is more associated with how we feel about things, even how God feels about things, because we can speak of seasons of blessing or times of refreshing, or perhaps a time of judgment!  It is important that if we adopt a personal goal of spiritual formation that we have those in our lives with some discernment about how we are doing.

1 comment:

Dave76 said...

Thanks, Michael, I have been reading a book on spirituality by Father Richard Rohr. I have passed your blog to our UMC adult Bible Study Class that uses Cokesbury International Series. Our pastor went to Asbury as did a former asst. pastor