N.T. Wright is offering a course that "have meant the most to [his] spiritual development." And, so, I began reflecting on what passages from. the Scriptures have shaped me. I'm not a fan of "life verses." They seem more like bumper stickers of wisdom extracted from their source and surroundings. The interest here is to get to the passages that have continually drawn us back over the years. I cannot really shake what they tell me about myself and the world I wish to inhabit.
Here is the beginning of my list:
Romans 1:16-17 NIV
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'”
It's really verse 16 that jarred me loose. I was a new believer, at a youth retreat for the South Central Ohio District in Ripley, West Virginia. The speaker talked about this verse. It was later in the weekend that I sensed a calling to mission and ministry. So, I've always taken to heart the desire to not only be with those inside the group but also to be among the outsiders. This is really the verse that brings to life the whole notion of the doctrine of entire sanctification--"the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" either it works for everyone or no one. One of the few either/or's in my spiritual lexicon.
Colossians 3:1-14 NIV
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
My first sermon in French was on this passage. It's just packed with the basics of Christian theology on the Incarnation - the heavenly becomes earthly - as well as the transformative power of the Resurrection that continually brings about a newness to daily life - la vie quotidienne. Even the mundane gets an overhaul. Especially the mundane, daily, boring makings of a life become something glorious in the hands of God. Moving toward Christlikeness makes us more like Christ and more recognizable to each other: "Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." This is not only an individual transformation but it is witnessed in the whole of "God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved." The witness continues through the people as they "bear with", "forgive", "love" and all the one anothers that "binds them all together." They surely don't look alike but they are "unified" in the Body and Blood of Christ--here on earth as it is in heaven.
I'll continue the list over the next few weeks, this is just a beginning.