Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Shaped More By Jesus

We just came through the first part of the Christmas-New Year season. We had a great time as a family, gathering here on Sunday and at my brother and sister-in-law's home yesterday. We ate a lot, gave and received gifts, played some games, and had some good conversations. Toni and I were among the first to leave for home last evening, mainly because it was important to get home and let our dog out. I knew too that it was good to get home so I could get to bed early, as usual, so I could get to work this morning. My work life doesn't give me extended breaks now-a-days, and sometimes that's a little sad.

During one of the good conversations yesterday, my nephew Jesse gave me a book. Jesse is a senior this year at Columbia University in New York City. The book he gave me doesn't connects with his studies and with his life, as he majors in "sustainable development" with a deep interest in theology. The Moral Vision of the New Testament is longer than I'll probably read cover to cover, but I did start looking, today, at chapter 13, which aims at offering "normative proposals about the most faithful and fruitful approaches to shaping a Christian ethic in response to the New Testament's witness."

I'm interested in the New Testament because it's formed around Jesus, and I'm interested in Jesus because he's "the exact representation" of God on earth. If human life is going to be all it can be, in a positive sense, it's going to be shaped by God, its maker, as God is revealed by Jesus, who's life shapes the "moral vision" of the New Testament." So this book by Richard B. Hays might be helpful. I think it is.

Oftentimes, I get discouraged because it seems that fewer people than I'd hope are wanting to conform their lives to Jesus and His ways. When that happens, I am called by God to remember that I don't know other people's hearts, nor God's plan for their lives. I'm redirected by the Holy Spirit at those times to what God is doing in my life. I need to let go of any expectation that other people's walk with God will be recognized by me. I'm usually able to let God be God in the lives of others, and just "live and let live" when it comes to other people.

What's harder for me to let go of my desire have more significant conversation, conversation that's aimed at transformation, conversation with people who say they want all the areas of their lives to be shaped and moved by Jesus. I long for those deep conversations, whether in person or by other means. We have some short conversations of that sort at family gatherings, but there's rarely enough time or enough good focus on serious topics of faith and life. I hope that, in the days and weeks to come, that I'll find a way to have more of those conversations, conversations that I think are very important if our lives are going to be shaped more by Jesus than by anything else.


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