Friday, July 09, 2010

The Circle : Choosing To Learn From Life

‘Lifeshapes’ are a series of tools for discipleship – for helping us to follow Jesus, and to help others to follow Jesus. Recognising that we live in an iconic culture, where brand logos both carry and unlock significant volumes of experience for us – try it: how much information and experience does the Disney logo, or the Apple logo, or the M&S logo recall to your mind? Choose a logo and write a list – they make use of simple iconic shapes to carry and unlock biblical teaching to live by, with a focus on the life and ministry of Jesus. The beauty of iconic symbols is this: that, just as with every new Disney (etc.) release, the reservoir of knowledge their logo carries and unlocks expands; so with every new thing we learn about living as disciples, the reservoir of knowledge the Lifeshapes carries and unlocks for us also expands.

Jesus’ entire ministry is introduced and summarised by the declaration: the time has come: the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe. (Mark 1:15)

That is: here is a [kairos] moment, an opportunity, where something of heaven is available to break-in to your day-to-day experience on earth; and the way in which we enter into that experience is through taking-on a change of worldview [repent], and then living-out that new way of being in the world [believe].

That moment can be anything that interrupts or disrupts the flow of our life, big or small, positive or negative; often a change in our circumstances, or our resources in the face of our circumstances. The bus is late, and you find yourself getting agitated; someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, and you feel helpless and scared; your child is born/starts school/leaves home, and your life changes, again; you lose your job – or are promoted at work; celebrate a significant anniversary, or face divorce; are shown a small kindness or a pettiness by a stranger; a friend speaks a word of encouragement, and tears spring from your eyes out of no-where...these are all kairos moments.

Repentance breaks-down into observation, reflection and discussion:

God draws our attention to observe something in the moment, something that may seem trivial or incidental at first (when his disciples are worrying about how they will provide themselves and their dependents with food and clothing, having given up their means of income to follow Jesus, he draws their attention to the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, Matthew 6:25-34); and speaks to us as we reflect on what we have now seen afresh, and as we discuss what we have seen with others: discipleship is not a private, internal matter, but is intended to take place with others: for God uses others to shape us, just as he uses us to shape others.

Likewise, believing is a practical activity that breaks-down into three parts – plan, account, act:

With those we have processed our repentance with, we make a plan for how we are now going to live differently (e.g. rather than worry about lack of resources, we will bring our needs to our heavenly Father, trusting him to provide what we need); and, crucially, we give our friends permission to hold us accountable to the decision we have taken, the plan we have made. With a plan and accountability in place, belief is now acted-out in how we live differently from before as we move on from the kairos moment.

Repentance is about discovering who God is and what he is like, and the implications for us as those who receive his love, his forgiveness, his mercy, his joy, his strength, his peace, his provision, his healing, his guidance, his deliverance...It is about hearing God’s voice day-by-day: and may involve recognition of our unbelief in a given matter (we call this confession); or may simply involve discerning that God is calling us into a new venture (we call this being led by God’s Spirit). Believing is about learning to live in the light of what we have discovered. It is about walking with God day-by-day. The two go hand-in-hand: repentance in one area of our life leads to a belief that brings us to another moment, another opportunity for repentance...and in this way, rather than life being something that happens to us, our life becomes a place where heaven continuously breaks-in to earth: where foretastes of, and signposts to, the future change the now, drawing it closer to the not-yet.

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