Some pertinent quotes from the five books that are in my bag this week. This might become a regular feature on Downshoredrift. I read a lot and I tend to study in according to themes and movements. This is what I've been reading and working through this week, personally and for our church. Maybe you will find this helpful.
Eugene Peterson on our need for diversity in the church in Practice Resurrection, pp. 35-36: "The Ephesian letter shapes our imaginations to an awareness not only of ourselves but of all the other pilgrims on the road in simultaneous diversity and unity. This company of called fellow-travelers, all different and all one, is the church. Paul's metaphor for it is a human body to which Christ is the head, "the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12). Everybody different, everybody organically connected. Shimmering diversity and harmonic unity – "joined and knit together by every ligament" is Paul's vivid metaphor (4:16). "Christ and the church" (5:32) is the paradigmatic form for this multitudinous and yet improbably unified company . . . Maturity develops in worship as we develop in friendship with the friends of God, not just our preferred friends. Worship shapes us not only individually but as a community, a church. If we are going to grow up in Christ we have to do it in the company of everyone who is responding to the call of God. Whether we happen to like them or not has nothing to do with it."
Dallas Willard on Our God Bathed World in The Divine Conspiracy, pp. 61-62: "Jesus' good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world. It is a world filled with a glorious reality, where every component is within the range of God's direct knowledge and control – though he obviously permits some of it, for good reasons, to be for a while otherwise than as he wishes. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with his presence, the word of Jesus has not yet fully seized us."
Michael Wells in Heavenly Discipleship, pp. 79-80: "The point is that the source of your anxiety and fear is that you trust a weak self. Do you see why you need Jesus? You were not created to carry all the concerns of life; you were created to be dependent. You cannot fly, and neither can you carry anxiety. The only One who can, Jesus, must carry the anxiety of every person. But how can He carry what He has not been given? Psalm 46:10 is clear: "Cease striving," or literally, get your hands off! Why do you keep your hands on? There is only one reason, and that is unbelief. You cling to belief in your own ability to do a better job than He would. Pride upholds trust in the slightest bit of self's strength. Humily lays aside all perceived strengths, embraces weakness, and abandons itself to God."
Kenneth Boa in Conformed to His Image, p. 280: “One of the great enemies of process spirituality is the craving to control our environment and the desire to determine the results of our endeavors. Many of us have a natural inclination to be manipulators, grabbers, owners, and controllers. The more we seek to rule our world, the more we will resist the rule of Christ; those who grasp are afraid of being grasped by God. But until we relinquish ownership of our lives, we will not experience the holy relief of surrender to God’s good and loving purposes . . . Our resistance to God’s rule extends to our prayerful attempts to persuade the Lord to bless our plans and to meet our needs in the ways we deem best. Instead of seeking God’s will in prayer, we hope to induce him to accomplish our will. Thus even in our prayers we can adopt the mentality of a consumer rather than a servant.”
Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken in The Renovation of the Church, p. 79: "I am convinced that personal pastoral ambition, and a pastoral ethic centered around productivity and success, is brutal to our souls and destructive to the souls of the people we lead. We must become skilled at detecting the odor of personal ambition and then flee from it as if the church's future depends on it. I believe it does. . . . Personal ambition has a symbiotic relationship with consumerism. The two go hand in hand. They feed off each other. As a Christian leader who is motivated by personal ambition, I can appeal to the basic consumer tendencies of teh people I desire to be a part of my church or ministry. If I do this well, I will be rewarded by their attendance, their support and their allegiance, and my church or ministry will grow. Everybody is satisfied. Everybody gets what they want. The lighted match of my ambition ignites the dry timber of consumerism, and we have a raging fire that is very difficult to put out. While I suspect that there is not much that I can do about the cultural force of consumerism in our country, I believe I can do much abou the forces that drive me as a Christian leader."