If we think of ourselves as Christian leaders, we must first become followers. We must let Jesus include us on the only terms which he uses to include anyone: “Come, follow me.” If we, for any reason, think that we have arrived or secured a place for ourselves apart from answering that call, we are mistaken. Our own sin should be enough to remind us that we need a savior just as much as the next person does! No level of respectability and no set of social markers can rescue us from sin; only Jesus can do that.
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It’s in his story of suffering that we see who Jesus is—the kind of person he is, and the kind of Messiah he is. In particular, we can learn about Jesus from his attitude toward his own suffering while it happens. Looking at the passages in Luke about Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and passion, there are four aspects of his attitude toward suffering that emerge:
• I’m ready for this.
• I don’t have to fight this.
• I can love others in the middle of this.
• There’s something better on the other side of this.
When a truth rests in our heart, it means that how we live will be different because of it. First, someone understands the truth in their head. Then they believe it in their heart. Then they bear out that belief through the actions of their body. In reflecting on the results of their actions, they gain a deeper understanding, and the cycle repeats.
I confess that I’m not sure, at the level of larger social and denominational structures, what can be done about this disagreement. Bonnie Kristian has spoken to the possibility of division in sobering terms; for many of our institutions we may have to say “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” But I do know that at the scale of interpersonal relationships and local congregations, Scripture calls for us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3 NIV) and to “bear with each other and forgive one another” (Colossians 3:13 NIV). To that end, I recommend four difficult steps for conversations about race:
1. Practice a Posture of Prayer
2. Have Humility
3. Hold Your Ground, Gently
4. Champion Cultural Change
Scripture invites us into something far richer than a stale duty when we pray. Think about how energizing a genuine friendship can be. You look forward to spending time with the other person. You enjoy conversation with them. You feel close to them. Although we all will face times when prayer doesn’t feel like this, it’s also possible to experience times when it does.
Thankfully, for followers of Jesus, spiritual formation isn’t trendy or exotic. It’s just a helpful way to refer to a reality that the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures teach about all human beings: We all have a spirit, an inner life, that takes shape over time. Think about your body. It changes shape based on what goes into it and what you do with it. That’s true about our inner, spiritual self as well.
The first winter after I got my driver’s license, blizzards pummeled Chicago. Temperatures stayed below freezing from Christmas day until the beginning of March. It was bad even for us hardy Midwesterners, with whiteout conditions coming up out of nowhere. On a bright morning with about four inches of snow, I ventured out in my …
Advice for the ambitious: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. It may or may not be good advice. My favorite misapplication comes in meme form: But the cliche carries an important truth: It pays to prepare for your own future. Human beings are routinely bad at thinking ahead. Take retirement …