Editor’s Note: For those of you waiting for David Costillo’s final post on vulnerability, check back here on Saturday.
One of the questions we at The Leadership Institute often ask leaders who come to our training is a simple one: “What is the Christian life?”
I sometimes notice impatient glances that seem to say, “What a dumb question to be asking Christian leaders!” Is it? If a person who had absolutely no idea what the Christian life is about, could you give them a good basic answer in only a few minutes?
I’m hopeful that this quotation from Eugene Peterson may serve to help you understand the simplicity of the Christian life.
“…the Christian life develops organically. It grows from a seed that’s planted in the actual soil of our muscles and brain cells, our emotions and moods, our genetic code and work schedule, the North American weather and our family history. It isn’t imposed from without. It isn’t monitored and regulated by a religious bureaucracy. God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost isn’t a consulting firm we bring in to give us expert advice on how to run our lives. The gospel life isn’t something we learn about and then put together with instructions from the manufacturer; it’s something we become as God does his work of creation and salvation in us and as we accustom ourselves to a life of belief and obedience and prayer.” (Eugene H. Peterson. Leap Over a Wall. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997, p. 138.)
It is so easy in our very outward-oriented American culture to have a very outward-oriented view of the Christian life. Peterson offers a powerful contrast between an outward and an inward orientation to the Christian life. Seeds planted in the actual soil of our bodies, schedules, places and stories illustrate that the Christian life is an inside-out process and not outside-in one.
Outward changes and improvements do not change our hearts. God is the only One who can change them. He invites us to learn to be receptive and responsive to His work in and through us.
I’m a control freak. I want everything to go the way I like. I want everything to work the way I expect. The Christian life doesn’t work that way. I can’t control God. No one can. Father, free me from the illusion of control. Enable me to know how it is that in each moment, I can be empowered by You, transformed by Your Spirit, and shaped by Your hand. That would be a very good thing.