What We Need Most

One day, I'll quit.

Quit reading the timeline. The newsfeed.

Quit falling for clickbait. The sensationalized, the overblown, the "can you believe what he/she/they/it is doing NOW?"

As I think about spiritual formation into Christlikeness, that process where we are forged and formed to act as Jesus would if He were us, I wonder what's missing as I look at the social media screaming, the partisan schoolyard fights, the conspiracy links shared as if they were unquestionable truth.

There are more books published on the topics of discipleship and spiritual formation than possibly any other time in history.

There are people like me - pastors of spiritual formation - who occupy a role on a church staff in a local community.

Words like "contemplation" and "meditation" are finally free of the shackles of weird, New Age innovation and are seen for the gritty and rooted blessings that they are.

Yet, the transformation level that we see in public - in our personal interactions, in our decisions, in our economics and our politics - seems rather low.

What's missing?

While thinking about a book idea, the thought occurred to me: the problem is that we don't know how act when things get complicated. 

When we have two conflicting thoughts that have to be held in tension.

When our politics and our Savior are at odds with each other.

When our rights and our righteousness get tangled in each other's feet and go headfirst to the ground.

When we love our enemies but our enemies keep trying to kill us. To be specific.

How do we navigate the ever-changing world with an unchanging God? Certainly it isn't the teachings of Jesus that have fallen out of relevance, they are still vital to our life and work or else we'd stop talking about formation.

Credit: Jennifer Brouwer

The key, in my mind is this: we don't need stronger morality, we don't need more legislation, we don't need to pick the right party or the right theology.

What we need is quite simple - we need wisdom. 

Wisdom is using the appropriate knowledge at the appropriate time.

The point of Jesus' life, the point of the Scriptures, the point of a church fleshed out in the real world - not in some fairytale utopia - is to live and breathe the wisdom of God.

It is to know that there are teachings in Scripture that are appropriately practiced in their context, but times have shifted.

It is to know that often the question isn't "What is the law?" but "How do I do it?"

Jesus says the greatest commandment is:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40, NIV)

I would respond to this great commandment with the "great follow-up" - How do we do this? 

The question leads to wisdom because the commandment is knowledge, we delight in it because it's good and it keeps us from destroying ourselves and others and it bears fruit when it's supposed to (see Psalm 1), but wisdom is needed to figure out

...what does this look like with my abusive ex-husband?

...what does this look like with my co-worker?

...what does this look like when it comes to ISIS?

We need wisdom to know how to love, how to resist, how to set up boundaries and ultimately how to walk wisely in the delightful teachings of God here and now.

Where is wisdom trying to break through in your life today? What situation are you throwing Scripture verses at today, just hoping to find one that sticks? Perhaps the solution isn't more Scripture, but to take what you know and say "What is the wisdom of Jesus in this moment, right here where I am?"

I pray God opens your eyes to the wise path, the path of life and hope today.