What’s it all about? (Jan 2024)
I have no formal theological training.
I was once given a licence to preach by a Bishop to authorise involvement at work. I had been sharing the gospel for years. The license expired when I became unable to work after my accident.
I’ve now completed Week 3 of GMC School of Discipleship. A wonderful opportunity to hear a PHD theologian and bible college lecturer eloquently articulate thinking I’ve been engaging with.
I remain convinced of the need for balance and mindful awareness of the risk of using language that engages with the academic in-crowd at the expense of engaging with common people. People like me. Nonetheless, academic theory can improve practice and relationship. Balance to be had.
Language can never adequately reason and describe spiritual relationship with a God infinitely bigger and more complex than any of us. This was my only comment to all during the taught session.
It can be hard to describe God linguistically, as in the inexpressible Hesed. I sum up ‘Hesed’ as ‘character’ of God having read the book. Michael Card, Inexpressible – Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Loving kindness
In Christ and in the spirit.
Is it ‘in’ Christ or ‘with’ Christ. Is it both, and does it matter? There was significant information about the relevance and development of this language leading to a helpful foundation upon which to build understanding and lifestyle. It should be worth engaging with the book authored by the presenter. Dr Pugh, Ben, One With Christ. I’ve not read it as yet.
I had already battled with the NT Greek word, ἐν pronounced ‘en’ meaning in, by or with (Strongs G1722)
I had sought guidnace in relation to the Kingdom of God rather than Christ or Spirit. Different bible versions translate differently. So does the same version over time… “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:21 NIV. Earlier versions of the NIV translate this as, “the kingdom of God is within you.” Which is it? Where is the Kingdom of God? I checked the verse out in my version of a Greek New Testament.
The Greek here is ἐντός (en-tos’) (Strongs G1787) Translating ‘entos’. In this context you could go for, within or inside or among us, as well as in the midst.
After a bit of research I went for midst/core/centre of the heart. Greek καρδία (kar-dee’-ah) (Strongs G2588) Interesting word ‘heart’. I don’t mean the physical one. I mean the one to which Jesus refers to here…
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18 (NIV)
We think about ‘soul’ when we think about ‘heart’ in this way. My conclusion is that a relational connection to God is the key. I’d go with the need to be…
Heart felt and Soul full.
To know and feel his presence.
Allow our soul to be full of God our creator,
so that we can be as free, as we were created to be.
“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Mathew 22:37 NIV
Soul, ψυχή pronounced ‘psoo-khay’ (Strongs G5590) Our moral being designed for everlasting life.
A simple with or in summary is:
“But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV)
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Mark 8:36-37 (NIV)
Self-help is no help at all. We need the Holy Spirit to be our advocate. Self-sacrifice is the way to find true self. We are increasingly encouraged to think independently and value self-reliance.
During Week 3 we had a look at a collectivism v individualism world map. We are self-absorbed in the UK, US, Europe and Australia. Other parts of the south show extremes of collectivism. I’m a strong advocate of teamwork with teams of diversity and Christian leadership. Balance to be had?
Earlier in the week I read, “Christianity is not shrinking; it’s shifting (dramatically) from the northern hemisphere to the south.” Rick Warren, White paper, FinishingtheTask.com.
Collectivism, individualism, discipleship, and mission. Are these connected?
Individualism has been exaggerated and promoted by our culture and increasing engagement with technology. Texts, messaging, and social media. Fulfilment through ‘likes’ and our influence.
Does technology serve us, or are we becoming tied up and conected as slaves subconsciously? Updates and upgrades galore. When my phone was tied to a wall by a wire, I was more free.
Our very identity is at risk with AI as deep learning models develop. We may love technology but does it love us back? Who and what is in the driving seat controlling our lives.
Are we being tempted and deceived by the offer of technology? Andy Crouch, The Life we are looking for -reclaiming relationship in a technological world has been an exceptionally helpful read.
Wealth, is eternally worthless. Purpose in life is far more important than property or possessions.
I believe we need to mindfully move our thinking and actions beyond self. We need to move from prioritising our relevance to a focus on prayer. Our popularity to His ministry. Our leadership to being led.
Being with and not just doing for. Being interested over striving to be interesting or an influencer. Being empathetic over acquisition of knowledge. Demonstrable love to neighbour through lived out understanding, and Godly wisdom.
Seeking revelation over strategy. Seeking reconciliation over categorising and labelling ourselves and those around us.
Much of this thinking is found within an excellent book I’ve recently read, Pete Portal, 24-7 Prayer, How to be unsuccessful, An unlikely guide to human flourishing.
Union with Christ is the heart and centre of being Christian.
What do we have faith in? Ourselves or our God.
We do need to step back to see the big picture of scriptures before losing perspective in deep dive detail. God has always acted to restore relationship with people. Promise after inherited promise. Covenant after covenant. Old Testament and New Testament.
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV)
He is the only safe place.
“Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68 (NIV)
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NIV)
Holiness is another good read. J.C. Ryle distinguishes between sanctification and justification and I found his rationale convincing. He argues that according to the bible; justification, regeneration and sanctification are necessary for the salvation of every person. J.C. Ryle, Holiness.
It’s an ongoing journey. What matters is not who we are, but who we are becoming with God.