Thursday, February 07, 2008

What is Christian Spirituality - Part 2 - A Living Jesus

In order for one to embody Christian Spirituality, they must first have faith, trust and confidence that the reality in which they speak of is actually a reality that can be accessed and experienced as ultimate reality. The accessibility to such a with-God[1] life was made available to us in the Incarnation, Person, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, the appropriation of such entrance into a spirituality that propagates a qualitatively new living reality hinges on the deep conviction that Jesus actually rose from the dead[2] and an accurate understanding of the essence of such aforementioned resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus wasn’t one that merely fostered a “perpetuation of the same life that was led before the moment of death,”[3] it was a life that possessed a qualitative distinction. Jesus, among other things, would never die a mortal death, rather ascend to heaven and remain eternal King forever. Christian Spirituality is just that – spirituality. It is something other than natural, though the essences of Christian Spirituality permeates one’s whole natural being. Paul declared that we are a “new creation.”[4] Essentially a new race emerged on the scene of human history. A race of people, defined by characteristics ambiguous and nonexistent since that dark moment of spiritual death that would infect the whole of humanity through the first Adam’s choice of self-sufficient disobedience.[5] Through the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit, humanity was granted the grace to once again be people identified as people of the Spirit.

Such a reality is only available by faith in the Life of Christ, His Death and Resurrection. Luke Timothy Johnson, in his book Living Jesus: Learning the Heart of the Gospel, expends a great deal of ink working through the various implications of Jesus’ resurrection. Many would wonder why Johnson would labor to the extent that he does in defining the various parameters of Jesus’ resurrection and the necessity of our adhere to that as an actual reality. Yet, it seems his labor isn’t entirely in vain, since according to pollster George Barna, sixty-three percent of “Christians” do not believe Jesus is the Son of God. Moreover, an astounding fifty-one percent of “Christians” do not believe Jesus rose from the dead.

True Christian Spirituality is “joining with God”[6] in the ever day ordinariness of life, while living in the actuality of the Spirit’s Presence indwelling, guiding, filling and empowering[7]. An appropriate understanding of Christian Spirituality emerges out of an understanding that it can not be transcended and actualized in and of our own selves and endeavors of personal striving; rather it is a gift to be appropriated through faith in Christ and the ongoing dependence upon and presence of the Holy Spirit.

The question(s) then arise: Is my life a visual demonstration of one indwelt, empowered and in-lived by the Spirit of God, incarnating the very essence of who He is, or has it been reduced to a series of doctrinal creed of mental consent void of any ongoing and authentic interchange with the everyday ordinariness of my life...?

[1] With-God is a phrase frequently to describe an authentic, organic, intentional and relational interaction with God through Jesus. This phrase is frequently utilized in the writings of Dallas Willard and Richard Foster.
[2] Luke Timothy Johnson, Living Jesus, 4. “Do we think he is dead or alive?”
[3] Ibid., Living Jesus, 13.
[4] 2 Corinthians 5:17.
[5] Genesis 2:17 and Ephesians chapter 2.
[6] Ibid., Living Jesus, 19.
[7] Ibid., Living Jesus, 38-44.

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