Passing the Peace: More Information or Right Formation?

We are all broken pieces being shaped by the Master artist to fit in God’s mosaic masterpiece.

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Sep 30, 2023

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Last month I shared how, all too often, Christians respond to political discipleship rather than biblical discipleship. Regardless of whether your politics lean to the left or to the right, many in the American Church share the belief that more information will lead to right formation. In philosophical terms, this is the idea that orthodoxy (right thinking) will lead to orthopraxy (right doing). Or to put it simply: “If I think the right way, then I will do the right things.”

This divided thinking is more cultural than biblical.

Hear O Israel, love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Not a Hierarchy
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that right thinking isn’t important. Of course right thinking is important, but Scripture doesn’t give us a hierarchy. Rather, throughout the Old and New Testaments, God calls us to integrate our being, thinking, doing, and loving in a way that forms our whole selves to love God and our neighbors. In this way we are formed more and more into Christ-likeness, into the image of God.  

We hear it in the ancient Hebrew prayer, the Shema: “Hear O Israel, love the Lord, your God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) This oft-repeated prayer was used to remind the people of God to walk in the faithfulness they were called to. We see it in the way Jesus embodied this way of living during his time on earth and in the sending of the Holy Spirit to empower the people of God to live in this integrated, embodied way.

A quotation from St. Augustine of Hippo on a green background. “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”

 

The Reality of our Brokenness

When we prioritize right thinking over the right way of being and doing, we lose sight of our own brokenness and the reality that, while we are working to heal the brokenness in our world, we are doing it as broken people ourselves. In essence, we are all broken pieces being shaped by the Master Artist to fit in God’s mosaic masterpiece. God cares deeply about our formation, and is faithful to uniquely shape us towards God’s purposes.

Ruth Haley Barton defines spiritual formation as “the process of being transformed into the image of Christ for the glory of God, for the sake of others, and for the abundant life.” Throughout Scripture, God is on a mission to restore and reconcile all things. As the people of God, we are invited to participate as agents of healing. We respond by allowing ourselves to be formed by God for God’s purposes. This is the work of spiritual formation.

A new resource from Arrabon

Because we believe that reconciliation is spiritual formation, Arrabon is committed to developing resources for you to pursue reconciliation in your own communities. In less than two weeks, we’ll release Part 1 of our updated small group Bible study, A People, a Place, and a Just Society. This spiritual formation resource is designed to help Christian communities be immersed in the story of Scripture from Genesis through Revelation with a focus on God’s heart for justice and reconciliation.

I hope you’ll take advantage of this new resource as we enter the next election cycle and continue to experience the effects of division and polarization in our own communities. Let’s be intentional about our spiritual formation and purposefully gather with brothers and sisters in Christ to be formed into a reconciling community.

Written by David M. Bailey. Originally published in Arrabon’s email newsletter “Passing the Peace.” Sign up for our newsletter below.

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