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Spiritual Theology

02 Dec 2014

Bible reading: John 1:1-5

Eugene Peterson (The message) “What we think about God is theology and the way we live with God is spirituality”
This statement highlights the fundamental difficulty within the 21C Christian life, that is, the unknowing of what to do with the deepest and most characteristics longings of our faith, the concerns, hunger and thirst for what is lasting and eternal, genuine and authentic, reliable and realistic, in short we ache for a spirituality that lives out from our theology and we desperately need a theology that shapes our spirituality. Within John 1 we recognise Christ as the only option to a fulfilled life by way of a life filled full with Christ. Within John 1 Christ does so three ways:
Christ the Living Word speaks in creation.
We live in an extraordinarily complex cosmos. We live out our lives in the presence of and in relation to millions of other life-forms. There’s a lot going on around us. In an age that increasingly functionalizes everything and everyone, and in times when the sense of the sacred, the holy, whether in things or people, is steadily eroding, Christians need to remain faithful in continuing to celebrate, honour and respect all creation as a holy gift that has its origins and full expression in the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection and ascension of Christ’s sovereign person who was and is the head of all creation. Yes creation moans and groans, yes life is eroding but he and he alone is, was and will always be The High and lifted up one, The king of all creation, the heaven maker, the ocean creator and the world sustainer.
Christ the Living Word speaks throughout history.
Christ is not only the head and creator of creation itself but He is sustainer and completor, as revealed in the book of Revelation given to John. History tells the sorry story in which sin and death play a major part: suffering and pain, disappointment and loss, catastrophe and evil in every age. In an age of increasing knowledge of dazzling and dizzingly technological proficiency it is easy to assume that a little more knowledge and technology will turn the tide and we will all soon be better off. But we arn't, are we? And what’s more, past historic realities reveal that we won’t be either. Historians have provided thorough and irrefutable documentation that the century just lived through has been the most murderous on record. And even now, with isis, Ebola and present trouble in the Crimea; to mention but a few, the facts show that we need help. That Christ who entered history with a viable definitive meaning afforded help revealed through his birth, life, death and resurrection produced redemption, reconciliation and salvation for all mankind. We need to look again at the man and not society’s or in some cases even the church’s parody of Christ. Under the image of the trinity we discover that we cannot know God by defining him through theology but we can by way of being loved by him and loving him, ourselves and others in return.
Christ the living Word lives in community.
True authentic theological spirituality is a life in relationship. The Christ life is lived with others, He is of The Trinity and so He lives with and for others in relationship. Nothing He does is done alone or solely for himself (John 5:19). In an age of heightened individualism, hedonism and consumerism, it is easy to assume that life is primarily lived out for our own means and comfort, but neither self-centeredness nor selfishness has any standing in a community that seeks to serve one another, Christ has placed us in a holy community formed by his own self within the trinity so that we become full participants in all that the risen life entails. As Christ is part of the Trinity, so those who confess to follow Christ are part of a community, we cannot exercise faith in isolation or in a theological and spiritual vacuum.
There must come a time for most of us when we discover a deep desire within us to live out from the heart of what we already know in our heads in order to practice it with our hands.
We must no longer substitute the knowledge of God for the presence of God, but the presence of God must be aligned and tested with the revelation He has given us through theology gained in and through His written Word, taught by His spoken word revealing His Son, The Living Word. This Advent, may we do so. Amen
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