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Near Occasions of GraceI’m about two-thirds of the way through Near Occasions of Grace, by Richard Rohr. It’s fantastic. Each new chapter is filled with insights that cause me to actually respond out loud. I’ve never talked back to a book this much. I’m getting Pentecostal in my reading, amen? “AMEN.”

One of my favorite quotes so far, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”  This insight has been powerful for me as someone who tries so hard to do the opposite. I would say that most of my energy spent trying to improve my character or create discipline has been in trying to think myself into change. To come up with some new understanding that will finally set me in the right direction.

I’ve been reading all sorts of new authors in the last couple of years who have challenged my theology and worldview. It’s been fantastic, but ultimately affected little change in how I act. I have new things to say, new concepts to impart, new frameworks for how I understand the Gospel an our task as Christians. And all that is necessary and beneficial. But I have not made any sort of real change or taken new risks outside of communicating those learned concepts. Maybe I’ve challenged students minds, and God knows they need it, but I’m only challenging what they think, not what they apply. And the same goes for me.

At our church each week we declare our mission “To glorify Jesus Christ be instruments of God’s healing, reconciling, life-giving presence in the world.” I love and wholeheartedly believe in this mission. But I wonder to what degree I’m actually participating in it. I think it, but I’m not sure I live it. Thanks to the reading I’ve been doing I’m in a much better place to back it up biblically. So for those who need convincing, bring it on. But once I’ve convinced you ask me to show you. That’s what is needed. That’s what I need. I’m praying that God leads me to move past appreciating a well articulated analysis and to actually “live my way into new ways of thinking.”

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