Sunday, June 11, 2017

At the Crossroads: The Aims of Jesus as the Basis of Life for the World + Friday, June 9, 2017

"This life is hard, it’s cross-bearing, and yet it’s always a great time to be a follower of Jesus."

This wonderful declaration was how Bishop Todd Hunter opened the Anglican Diocese of New England's "At the Crossroads: The Aims of Jesus as the Basis of Life for the World" seminar at All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Amesbury on Friday, June 9, 2017.

I have recently been introduced to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Todd Hunter who serves as the founding bishop of The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others and founding pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, CA. 

He's a gift from God to Jesus' Church and a pleasure to learn from. His book Giving Church Another Chance is a good introduction to his story and why God has provided his voice to share more of Jesus' healing for our bruised hearts and souls.

Here are the notes from my time with Bishop Hunter yesterday.

The Kingdom of God is not a philosophy or idea. It is a secular reality for right now: "The Kingdom of God is near." 

Jesus sees our insecurities and anxieties, and He remains present with us to offer us His peace. He can do this with us and for us because He lives in light of the transcendent story that God is creating and redeeming His creation. He breaks into our present moments and provides perspective on what He is doing to bring resurrection even in the face of death.

He revealed this when He walked the earth. For example, even as He is facing the betrayal of Judas and the impending desertion of His disciples and unjust crucifixion by Jewish and Roman authorities, I imagine Jesus looking at Peter who is trying to start a fight: “Peter, put away your sword. I could call a legion of angels to protect Me. But I’m going to the cross, and walking through death, and I’ll see you on the other side on the beach.”

With Jesus, we can see our story through our current challenges, believing His promise to be with us so we don't lose perspective on the story of our redeeming God who has set Himself on the goal of sharing His love with us right now in any circumstance and bringing His good, right, and perfect purposes for His creation to their fulfillment.

God desires to form and transform us to be like Jesus, so we also can be peacefully present to a broken world.

Jesus is approximate to those who know they are sick. He is the imprint of God in relation to humanity. He asks us, like God in the garden with Adam and Eve, “Do you see where you are? Why are you not near Me?”

Jesus always begins with where people are, not where He wishes they were. And then He brings us alongside Him to be with people where they are, not where we wish they could be.

We can live knowing God is the Father who is always looking down the road for those who are coming back to Him. And we can welcome them, too.

Any one and any interaction with any one can be made sacred through Jesus. We can pray for and receive that kind of confidence when we walk with Him.

Any fisher woman or man knows you catch fish on their terms. This includes the right bait, place, etc. We go with Jesus to where others are, not waiting for them to come to us. 

When Jesus does this with us, He offers the best hospitality to welcome all with a generous, peaceful (i.e. non-anxious) presence without compromising His holiness or righteousness. He knows what we need, and it is God's love, hospitality, generosity, peace, holiness and righteousness. We need all of Jesus and we offer all of Jesus.

Like Jesus, we are called to relational reliance with God.

In John 20:21-22, Jesus says, "As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you. Take, inhale, receive, be, and do My Holy Spirit." 

How do we become more like Jesus as we spend time with Him? How do we image God like Jesus imaged God? We believe what He says and we take in the gift of His Holy Spirit.

“I only do what I see My Father doing. I only say what I hear My Father saying.” Do we only want to do what our Father is doing? Do we only want to say what our Father is saying? Do we trust this captures everything we need and everything the person we love needs?

Being filled with His Holy Spirit compels us to live in light of this just like Jesus did when He lived. He provides droplets of grace for us to enact the Father's good and perfect way of life together with others. Jesus offers us His Spirit to give us the peace to live our lives as if it were Jesus living through us.

Good questions to ask as we consider trusting Jesus and enjoy His peace and non-anxious presence:

+ Are we content in being known and loved by the Father? 
+ Are we attentive to God the Holy Spirit? To ourselves? To others? 
+ Do we want to embody the space God has given us to be listening and loving and present to offer the hospitality of God like Jesus?
+ Are we practicing not having the last word?  
+ Are we OK with not being beholden to what people think?  

How do we believe and practice such a love that aims toward Jesus and His Gospel of Kingdom?

We can practice this with a fun and holy imagination. When we cultivate a Kingdom mind-set that fuels our imaginations and incubates our loves and longings in such a way that we are continuously indexing our hearts toward Jesus and His Kingdom, we will live the full and abundant life that God intended for humanity.

To be conformed to the image of God’s Son is not only to think God’s thoughts after Him, but to desire what God desires.

This involves:

+ the recapturing of our imagination; 
+ the shaping of what we perceive to be real; and 
+ the recalibration of our heart and habits. + James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love.

When we choose Jesus, we’re choosing Him because He reveals the best and truest way to live as a human being.

With Jesus, we get to cultivate and stay connected with the brokenness of ourselves and others as a “non-anxious presence” through the peace of His Spirit that strengthens our hearts and minds.

Through Jesus, we get to be still with others. 

We cultivate this stillness with Jesus before a moment so we can be in the moment.

Do we rely too much on information? Because information when we’re not ready to hear it is not determinative. We continue to trust God, to be still, and to pray to be like Jesus when the moment comes.

Our life is what we give our attention and love to because our desires will drive us. Our ministry of following Jesus is going to reflect what we love of Jesus Himself and why we desire Him. 

We can abandon the outcomes to God. He’s got this. The Latin etymology of the word “conversion” is “to take the first step.”

What is the biggest human choice? Choose who/what you worship, choose your teacher, follow because we will worship, we will learn from, and we will follow someone.

We don’t want “vampire Christianity,” or something understood as “Jesus, we want a little bit of Your blood for our life, but we don’t really want much to do with You and Your Kingdom call.”

The telos or goal for followers of Jesus as His Church are His aims, His announcement, His embodiment and His demonstration of the Gospel of the Kingdom for humanity being made in the image of God.

Right now in the 21st century West, deconstruction (via doubt, criticism, perspectival, contextual, and vernacular complications) is more valued than construction because construction can require some absolutes.

Like Dallas Willard, we can begin to ask: “If it were up to you, would you like there to be a God?” If yes, would you like Him or Her to express Himself or Herself? If this God expresses a will, do you think She or He would have something to say about __________ ?

We listen and provide answers to questions by living out our God-created identity with others as generously and graciously as our Father does the way He does with us (Matthew 5-7). 

We become revealers, faithful repenters who turn back to Jesus, converting to His way of life again and again for the life of the world.

The greatest hermeneutic of the Gospel will be communities of people who actually live like it’s true. + Lesslie Newbigin

+ Sully

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