THE STORY OF FAITH … has a narrative arc: a beginning, middle, and end. We do have a sense of where this whole thing is headed, even if we can’t prescribe every stage of the journey for each unique individual. Being formed in the image of Christ is the process and goal of spiritual formation; that’s what we’re working and praying toward; that’s what we’re helping youth to become: “little Christs” — Christians who reflect the image of Jesus to the world.
– Sarah Arthur
The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry
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Is it possible that many Christians have lost the plot of this story of faith? Or simply lost? But if one is lost why do we insist that we know where we are going or why do we still refuse to get some guidance? Perhaps, it’s like some of us who don’t like to ask strangers for directions while being lost in the car!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what does it mean to be a Christian – a Christ-follower these days. Is it just switching from one religion (e.g. Buddhism) to another (e.g. Christianity)? Is it wondering the maze of denominations after being a Christian? Is it having a perfect family with kids who don’t need to go to the dentist?
Christians are then tempted to live in pure reactionary mode and fight demons of perceived "fundamentalism" of the past, while secretly holding an elitist view of ourselves in relation to the "unthinking" religion which we want to distance ourselves in. We have new found language, new theologies, new experiences, or whatever, and yet, we hit dead ends most of the time. We look around and "babies" are all over the place and we wonder which one to pick up first, because of our zeal to throw the "bath water". Too many crying "babies" on the floor will drive any sane human nuts! For those who are not into metaphors, you know I’m not talking about literal babies right? 🙂
Okay, once we go deeper than the surface of religion, we then speak of faith or spirituality. It’s a small start, but picking up the "babies" is what is needed. The way of Jesus, or the older way of saying it, a "relationship with Jesus Christ." We guard against over privatizing it nowadays, because the Gospel maybe personal but it’s not private we say. But then, we are well aware restoring the public dimension of faith doesn’t negate the personal. So, we need to find a way to live with this paradox which I think it’s possible. Possible, for those who are not insistent on resolutions prematurely. The fact is when we talk about "being formed", there is always an unfinished aspect at least on this side of heaven. There’s a "toward-ness" in it. I believe authentic humility means we keep a very disciplined watch on any form of "it’s just me" kind of thinking in check.
And once that comes into focus, we don’t have to be trapped by "religious" talk alone, and begin to focus on life, and what we are called to become and called to do. Becoming "little Christs" involves quite a serious of little deaths, a few major ones along the bumpy ride no doubt, but it also leads to little resurrections which is a foretaste of THE resurrection of the body we await for. It’s not the end, but a start … a start somewhere.
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