born again, and again, and again, and...
No, this isn't a posting about eternal security, or camp conversions that are renewed every summer in the embers of the Thursday night fire, accompanied by singing. This is a response to the conversation in the previous post, "dude, where's my stuff?" I'm intrigued by how much chatter is created around ethical topics, and how little is created around topics related to heart care (see previous post on Bible reading).
I'm increasingly convinced that we modern Christ followers have a hard time seeing either the relationship or sequencing of interior and exterior matters related to transformation. Let me explain what I mean:
Relationship of interior and exterior: Sometimes it appears that there's a giant wall between sacred and secular, between spiritual disciplines and ethics, between heart formation and the way we live, between root and blossom. Some of us are intent on living out the faith and helping (or in our uglier moments, mandating) others in their ethical choices and priorities. Thus do we talk about materialism, earth stewardship, caring for the poor, justice issues, and sexual ethics. Others have priorities that are more centered on developing a rich interior life through the nurture of silence, solitude, prayer. But too often, these interior and exterior elements are seen as unrelated, and so it becomes possible to have a 'rich devotional life' but remain outwardly unchanged. Or the reverse can be true: deep commitment to ethics, while the soul grows barren.
It's vital that we see the symbiotic relationship of these two matters, because the truth is that each needs to the other if there's to be life. Devotional life, Bible reading, silence, and all the rest of our interior matters become nothing more than self indulgence if they don't lead to a change in the way we actually live. And any attempts to change the exterior without the needed interior fortification will result in glaring, gaping holes in our lives.
As a pastor committed to soul care, both for myself and others, I'm looking for an ecology of the heart that sees the interior and exterior as an ecosystem; symbiotic, interdependent. Like any ecosystem, life is unsustainable unless the parts are feeding each other to create the whole.
How about you? Are you more likely to focus on ethics, or soul care? Exterior or Interior? I'm trying to name my own tendencies so that, this spring, I can bring things back into balance, after a very busy winter. Hopefully the balance will lead to nutritious soil, the planting of the word, and the blossoming and bearing of fruit in my home, neighborhood, church, and beyond.