This is my 9th teaching in the series “Being the Beloved – A Year of Spiritual Formation”.
Being God’s Beloved: For three months I’ve taught on Being and Becoming God’s Beloved. To Be-Loved and to Love is our new nature and identity in Jesus Christ. We are “accepted in The Beloved” (God’s Son, Eph 1:6), thus “born again” by God’s Spirit/Life (John 3:3-5), with his nature in us as his beloved children – to imitate him and learn to live a life of love (Eph 5:1-2). I recap both the language and the overall Framework that I use, and then I introduce how God changes us into being Beloved.
The Language of VVPP: I use the language of vision, values, priorities and practices. But it starts with mission.
Mission is our sense of being, our identity and calling – answers WHO we are.
Vision is our sense of becoming, our future oriented goal – answers WHERE we’re going.
Values are our core beliefs, our non-negotiable guiding principles, measured in what we give our time, energy and money to – answers WHY we do what we do.
Priorities are the most important things we do first before (or prior to) doing other things – answers WHAT we do.
Practices are the HOW we do our priorities – also called disciplines, exercises, or skills.
See my diagram of the overall Framework, showing our vision and values.
Our mission and vision is the center (centers us): Freeing Love – our sense of being and becoming – to be-loved and learn to live a life of love, just as Jesus loved us.
Our core values as followers of Jesus (to live our mission and achieve our vision):
Following Jesus – loving God – intimacy with him
Forming (in) Community – loving each other – integrating relationally
Fishing World – loving the world – impacting and transforming society
Fitting Context means we live and ‘work’ these three values as is relevant to our daily life context and in doing what fits/works for us.
The question is: HOW do we do this? We live our values by regularly doing our priorities and practices – each core value has four practices – see the diagram.
Introducing Transformation: how God changes us into being Beloved
This is also called spiritual formation or growth into Christ’s nature and likeness – already within us. We must grow into the best version of who we already are! Without Christ we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). This death means spiritual separation from God and his eternal life. But when we entrust ourselves to Jesus we are “born again” by God’s Spirit. His Life enters us. Salvation is God’s gift of eternal life. LIFE is defined as “the power to relate and assimilate – to sustain and grow its qualities.” E.g. a seed is ‘dead’, but is potential ‘life’. When planted in soil it draws the moisture and nutrients it needs to live, to sprout and grow. This continues as long as it lives. When a baby is conceived it draws from the mother all it needs for its life and development. When it’s born the baby continues to relate to and assimilate the world beyond it – breathing air, drinking milk, receiving love, exercising – to live and grow.
Being (spiritually) born again we relate to God and assimilate his very Being through various spiritual practices. E.g. prayer is breathing the oxygen of heaven to live God’s life and grow in his character here on earth – to do his will on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, we must be clear that it is GOD who changes us, we cannot change ourselves. We are changed by his Spirit-Life in us, which slowly grows and progressively transforms us into his likeness. But that’s NOT automatic! It happens with our responsive and cooperative effort as we prioritize the spiritual practices given to us in Jesus and his Church. More detail on this next week!