In posts of the past few weeks, I’ve tried to show the weaknesses of a spiritual growth model. To make “spiritual maturity” the aim of the Christian life leaves a seriously devoted person open to confusion, to frustration, and ultimately to despair. How many people do you know who have given up on church and on trying to live a Christian life? Those who don’t give up settle for something much less than the fullness of the faith. I doubt this is what you believe Jesus meant when he said: “I have come that you might have life and have it in its fullness” (John 10.10).[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
It’s one thing to critique a model. It’s another thing to present a better one; in this case a “fuller” one. So, for the next few posts, I’ll attempt to compose a model which actually fleshes out a historical, classic approach to the Christian life. I’m calling it the Participatory Paradigm.
The paradigm takes shape with 4 time-honored ways to live the Christian life. This is “how to” participate in the Trinity.
You participate in the life of the Trinity…
- Liturgically: You may not realize it, but you live your life liturgically. You engage set ways of living. You have a routine upon awaking in the morning. These types of routines guide your life all day long – your drive to work, your behavior at the office, how you eat, how you dress, and how you prepare for getting to sleep every night. Even your “free” church has its liturgy – a pattern of how a church service is conducted that doesn’t vary much week to week. If this is true, then the issue as far as participating in the Trinity goes is, “Does this liturgy actually move me into a participation with the Trinity?” Ask yourself, “Am I actually experientially engaging the life of the Trinity, the kingdom of God, as I worship and as I live out my life every day?” “What are the ‘rituals’ of my life that actually aid my living into God’s life?”
- Sacramentally: You navigate life realizing everything and everyone is sacred. God is everywhere present and filling all things. God is in everything and everyone, manifesting Himself as He will. God is NOT the tree yet He shows Himself in the tree. No person IS God yet every person bears the image of God. As you participate more fully in creation, in people’s lives, and in the material world, you participate more fully in the Trinity. (See Ephesians 1.23; 4.10, 13)
- Ascetically: Unless you struggle, suffer, and die for Christ you cannot truly live in Christ. You experience the grace of God most in pain. He is present in the darkness and uncertainty. You must become less so He can become more. There are time-honored practices that help you struggle, die, and become less. Practices like fasting, almsgiving, and prayer help you enter more fully into the life of the Trinity as you become less and He becomes more. Jesus taught that devotion to Him meant denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him. These practices are means to make this devotion a reality. Participation in the Trinity comes in struggle. (See 2 Corinthians 4.7-12)
- Eucharistically: Jesus meets with His disciples in the upper room. He holds bread in his hands and says, “This is my body.” He lifts a container of wine and says, “This is my blood.” Earlier, He had told the disciples, “I am the bread of life…this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6.25-58) Is there any doubt that Jesus has given you the way to participate in Him (and thus the Trinity) by giving Himself to you in the form of bread and wine? By eating His flesh/bread and drinking His blood/wine, you become one with Him; truly alive and abiding in Him.
For many of you, these “how to’s” are not a regular part of your life experience. Please do not dismiss them because they don’t quite fit your understanding of the Christian life. I kindly invite you to consider what these realities might mean to living a fuller life in Christ. Meditate on the scripture passages mentioned. See what God might do in you as you consider what I’ve written.
How are you living into the life of the Trinity now? What room is there in your life for these “how to’s” mentioned in today’s post? Share your thoughts below.