So What’s Next?

So, Paul, you’ve told me about spiritual formation beginning with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Now what?

Spiritual formation only begins with belief in the resurrection. Jesus said that we would know his followers by their fruits. When the rich young man approached Jesus and asked how he could inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus sensed that he only followed the rules because of duty or maybe because of trying to prove he was better than others.

Jesus said, “Sell all you have and give to the poor.” The man went away sad. Now we know his heart.

Paul follows exactly in that tradition.

After his introduction in the letter to the Ephesians, he proceeds to talk about what’s next.

He tells us to live in love. To put behind us the lusts of our past lives. Thieves, he said, should stop stealing. He gives us lists of examples

The scary thing is that there exist people (actually in all cultures) who would like to take those lists, capture the government, have the government pass all these things and more as laws, then use the police and courts to force people to “behave like Christians (or Muslims, or Hindus, or whatever your culture is)”.

That worked so well for the Pharisees in the first Century, right?

Paul always placed this in the context of spiritual formation. Laws cannot force us into spiritual formation. They can attempt to force behaviour. But that does not work all that well.

So first we decide to walk with God with Jesus as our guide.

Then because our heart is right with God, then we start to re-orient how we live. Jesus and Paul seldom talk about life after death or after the arrival of the New Earth. But they talk extensively about how we live this life on this Earth with these people around us.

Back to Ephesians. Paul said that Jesus gave us gifts. Gifts of talents–maybe being apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Why? To equip and build up people.  We are to speak the truth in love. Be angry but do not sin. Give up stealing. Do not speak evil, but grace. Be kind to one another, forgiving one another. Be imitators of God.

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