It’s Monday May 20

In 1543 Nicolaus Copernicus published his treatise, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, which presented a heliocentric (sun-centered) model of the universe. Prior to Copernicus, the dominant model for understanding the structure of the universe was the Ptolemaic model which positioned the earth at the center of the universe. As with all new theories, Copernicus faced fierce opposition not only from the emerging scientific community but also the religious community. It is not hard to understand why. Who wants to be displaced from the center of the universe? Certainly not me. Not us.

I wonder, sometimes, if we are in need of another Copernican Revolution in the church, especially in the United States. We’ve become very Ptolemaic in our sense of the faith. I am the center of God’s universe. I have a personal relationship with God. No one can call my faith journey into question. If it works for me (Christian community that is) I am all in. If not, well, there are other places to go, other experiences to placate my self-obsessed desires. Whether we say it or not, we like being the center of our universe.

It is no wonder that sort of individualized, self-focused faith has developed in our culture. We glamorize the rugged individualist. We honor the self-made man and woman. Listen to the public discourse on any number of societal issues and you will hear, “It’s my money. I earned it. I can do what I want with it. These are my guns. It’s my body. I can say what I want to others. I can do what I please.”

Is that really true? Can we really say those things as people who follow Jesus into Christian community?

Unfortunately, the Bill of Rights for some, has become a higher creed than the call to follow Jesus in community. When you simmer long enough in the cultural broth of individualism, ultimately it permeates the very pores of your being. You and I become the centers of the universe.

What would a Copernican Revolution of the soul look like? First. We would replace ourselves at the center of the universe with the Spirit empowered community that Jesus invites us to participate in. Don’t get me wrong. I think all the notions of self-care, self-love are critical for a faith journey. Jesus did say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There are times and seasons when, for the sake of our bodies and minds and souls, we need to pull away, focus our attention toward renewed health and vitality. But, self-care and self-absorption are miles apart.

Second, in a Copernican Revolution of the soul, we would start to ask new questions:
-Rather than ask, “What works for me?” We ask, “What would benefit my neighbor?”
-Rather than ask, “What do I desire?” We ask, “What does God desire?”
-Rather than ask, “What will give me life?” We ask, “How can I be a life-giving influence in the lives of others?”

Over-time, as the shift happens in your soul and your community, what you discover is those questions merge. You begin to desire what God desires. Your life becomes more vital as you experience the vitality of others in community. What benefits the neighbor, benefits you.

It’s Monday. Start asking the new questions today. Notice what it does in your soul to imagine the world as God does, to imagine a community centered on the goodness and power of God’s Spirit. Peace. Kai

It’s Monday May 13

Over the past eight years I have had the privilege of walking ever more closely with the Renovare’ community. Renovare’ is a movement of spiritual formation centered in the basic notions that following Jesus isn’t simply a ticket to heaven, following Jesus is an invitation to a life with God that more deeply experiences the transforming power of the Spirit and more widely expresses the power of love to a world in need.

Last week, one of the leaders of the Renovare’ movement, Dallas Willard, died. The list of books and articles that he wrote on spiritual formation could fill these pages but what was so inspiring to me was the way his gentle, spirit-shaped character, filled your presence with the goodness of God. What he wrote about, he sought to live. I and those who got to know him were the better for it.

Here is a description of spiritual formation that he included in his book, The Great Omission.

The Pharisees were in many respects the very best people of Jesus’s day. But they located goodness in behavior and tried to secure themselves by careful management at the behavioral level. However, that simply cannot be done. Behavior is driven by the hidden or secret dimension of human personality, from the depths of the soul and body, and what is present there will escape. Hence, the Pharisee always fails at some point to do what is right, and then must redefine, redescribe, or explain it away—or simply hide it.

In contrast, the fruit of the spirit, as described by Jesus, Paul, and other biblical writers, does not consist in actions, but in attitudes or settled personality traits that make up the substance of the “hidden” self, the “inner man.” “Love” captures this fruit in one word, but does so in such a concentrated form that it needs to be spelled out. Thus, the “fruit [singular] of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). Other such passages easily come to mind, such as 2 Peter 1:4–8, 1 Corinthians 13, and Romans 5:1–5.

“Spiritual formation” in the Christian tradition is a process of increasingly being possessed and permeated by such character traits as we walk in the easy yoke of discipleship with Jesus our teacher. From the inward character the deeds of love then naturally—but supernaturally—and transparently flow. Of course there will always be room for improvement, so we need not worry that we will become perfect—at least for a few weeks or months. Our aim is to be pervasively possessed by Jesus through constant companionship with him. Like our brother Paul, “This one thing I do:…I press on toward the goal!…That I may know Christ!” (Philippians 3:13–14, 8).

It’s Monday. Let the love of Jesus flow in you today. Then, let love flow from you. Peace. Kai

It’s Monday May 6

Want to lose five pounds quick? Stomach flu. Though highly effective, having navigated the journey this weekend, I’d suggest exercise and a decrease in bad carbs. It’s not a quick fix, but it definitely works better in the long run.

All that to say, I’m staggering off to work today with little focus and not much more energy. But, I’m here. I might not make it through the day. If not, there’s always Tuesday!

It’s Monday. I’m upright. That’s about all I can say today. Hopeful for a more energetic Tuesday! Peace. Kai