One spring I participated in a two and a half day silent retreat where I picked up two books by Scot McKnight called The Blue Parakeet and The Jesus Creed.In some of my reading and reflection times, I learned some things about principles of applying my story to the stories of the Bible and I thought about simple events in my life that I was overlooking. As the Bible tells stories about who God is and what He has done, it can also be applied to how he is present in our lives, every day and into the future.
We should be able to look at those stories in new ways as we put ourselves into and apply them to our lives. God’s chosen people often struggled with otherness and were searching for ways to live in oneness. God called them to live in a covenantal community with himself and others and the same is true for us today. This story is one that transcribes the entirety of the Biblical narrative, from Genesis one and two, through the life of Jesus, to the perfect fulfillment of oneness found in Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two.
One reason God gave us scripture was so we could not only know it, but also know about Him through it. We must read, reread and listen to how it is settling into our minds and heart. McKnight says listening is mentioned more than 1500 times in the Bible and one of the biggest complaints in scripture is that people do not listen to God.
If we can continue to develop these postures in our spiritual formation as Christians, we can aim to think like God thinks, desire what he desires and love what he loves. Love also has elements to consider beyond emotion and feeling, as it also has to include will, affection and action. Love drives things like compassion, empathy, reconciliation and justice. Again we come back to that oneness, seeking shalom justice by being reconciled to God, to those around us and to the place we live out of.
As I absorbed and reflected on these things in my own life, a passing experience of daily living came to mind. I was out running an errand and grabbing some groceries from Safeway one night as the pressures of the day with a young family had been taken care of; with the kids finally in bed. I grabbed my few things and headed to the only open till. The person ahead of me was visibly a bit unkempt and my first stereotypical response was that they were a homeless person or at least living on low income.
They had taken too many items than what their bank account would allow and were having to try, item by item, to put some back until they could afford the rest. I was immediately annoyed at having to wait, being held up from going home and missing my precious one hour of relaxation before bed. I did not say anything or make a scene but my heart and mind were not in the right place and I was living out of judgment, stereotype and division.
I was missing the characters of God I should have been living out and also missing the child of God that this person was. I was not looking to see God reflected in them, or even myself reflected in them as fellow human being. I missed an opportunity to be kind, generous, to strike up a conversation, or maybe even a relational opportunity with them.
God was there, right under my nose and I wasn’t listening to the Holy Spirit in ways that could have made that small seemingly insignificant situation a God moment. I wasn’t living out the Jesus Creed and loving my neighbor, I was forgetting the greatest commandments. From this realization I have tried to incorporate some spiritual practices to help me be more constantly mindful of God in my day. I try to recite the Jesus Creed to myself as I go through my day and I use short breath prayers as I encounter people or situations in my work and life.
As we come out of the hibernation of winter, get more active outside again and be more interactive with those around us, I hope we can see all of our friends, neighbors and strangers as created by God. May we encourage and strengthen each other to live and act in the love of the one who created us and gives us life. It is a wonderful thing to see communities gather together in unity, oneness, and see the lives of those around us flourish. God Bless you as you live and serve others in this new season.
Jesse Edgington - NADC Consultant