Spiritual formation (Ephesians 4:1–6)

What kind of “spiritual formation” does God desire for us?

Read Ephesians 4:1-6.

Here’s a confession. I’ve always been drawn to those parts of the Bible that spell out how I should live as a Christian. Ephesians 4–6 is so practical. I grew up in a church that emphasized personal piety and spiritual formation.

But obsessing about my spiritual development can be counter-productive if it makes me more focused on myself. In the end, I feel more convicted of my failings, more aware of my inadequacies, more critical of myself for falling short of God’s expectations. I end up critical of others too: “They’re no better, but at least I’m trying.”

It’s not easy to escape the cycle of the self. I can’t, until I engage with something beyond me. Continue reading “Spiritual formation (Ephesians 4:1–6)”

Becoming human: life in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16)

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

It’s easy to spend thousands on books and courses to help you become a better human. We’re preoccupied with how I can reach my potential and have the best life I can.

There’s a fatal flaw in that approach. What if my boss is a tyrant, or my spouse is a control freak? I can learn to disassociate, to isolate myself for my own sanity, but human flourishing is something we can only do together. Who can show us how to develop a better life together?

Let me recommend a book. It’s called Ephesians. It’s the good news that God is working to restore not just me but all of us together to become all he intended. Continue reading “Becoming human: life in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16)”

The powerful God who reigns in weakness

What does it look like when Jesus unites humanity under his leadership as the kingdom of God? For the church today, that might be the most important question, because that’s our identity, and it defines our mission.

Firstly, this is a radically different kind of politics. We’re accustomed to the world of party politics. The Liberal Party seeks power from and for the business owners. The Labor Party seeks power for the workers. The Nationals seek power for the landowners, and so on. Within each party are factions (left, centre, right), each seeking to gain more control of the party, in the hope of their party controlling the country.

Then there’s the division of countries, with different political systems: democracy, socialism, monarchy, republic, and so on. On the world stage, countries fight for self-interest. Looking back, history looks like struggle of the species, a political “survival of the fittest.” The strongest beasts survive to rule the world, and the winners write history (compare Daniel 7).

The Bible describes an alternative story of politics. Earth’s true sovereign — the king we sideline when we grasp for power, fight wars, and subjugate each other — takes the side of the suffering, not those who cause their pain:

Continue reading “The powerful God who reigns in weakness”

Saviour of the world

“This man really is the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:42)

An International Red Cross survey found “millennials are nervous about their future and see cataclysmic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime.” Add catastrophic fires and climate disaster, and it’s not hard to see why many people live in fear.

Does the gospel address our global fears? Or is it about how to escape from a world that’s likely to blow up? Is Jesus merely a personal Saviour? Or is he the Saviour of the world? Continue reading “Saviour of the world”

Jesus as Saviour

What do we mean when we call Jesus “Saviour”?

Would you describe Jesus as your personal Saviour? That’s good, but that’s only a tiny fraction of what the Bible means when it calls Jesus Saviour.

Let’s try a story. What’s your favourite spy movie? You know those ones where our agents have been incarcerated in a foreign land and condemned to death. With meticulous planning, satellite intelligence, and drone support, we send in the commandos to bring them home. Commandos are the “saviours” in our culture.

The gospel is that kind of story, with more intrigue and less gunfire.

Continue reading “Jesus as Saviour”

Relationship with God

So, how’s your relationship with God? Personal? Troubled? In love? Inert?

The question is helpful for some, but I’ve noticed others retreat. They feel like God isn’t speaking to them. Or their life is a struggle right now. If they felt safe enough to give an honest answer, they might respond like Job, “If only I knew where to find him” (Job 23:3). Continue reading “Relationship with God”