For the entire length of my Christian faith I’ve always placed a high priority on a few simple, quiet moments of reading, prayer, quietness, and meditation. In high school we called this JAM time. In college we called it quiet time. As an adult I simply think of it as soul cultivation.
In these moments I care about much more than simply broadening my knowledge about God, but for the purposes of my thoughts here let’s consider this emphasis on “quiet times” to reflect a push by Christians to know God deeply. Pastors encourage daily discipleship in some form of this quiet time. Reading Scripture, prayer, etc. Studies even support this. Christians who do daily reading of the Bible have a stronger connection to God than those who do not.
Pastors encourage daily discipleship in some form of this quiet time. Reading Scripture, prayer, etc. Studies even support this. Christians who do daily reading of the Bible have a stronger connection to God than those who do not.
I do not disagree with this devotional emphasis, but I wonder whether these kinds of things become misunderstood as the holiest things. If knowledge of God and emotional connection to God are the barometers we use, we walk dangerously close to the Gnostics of New Testament times, whom the writers of the NT consistently had in view.
I make it a daily practice to process through my interactions with people before I go to sleep. How quickly I said hi in passing to a friend. Did I listen well as an acquaintance shared about their latest struggle? My struggles in these areas push me to do better, to care more. However, I rarely consider these interactions to be the holiest things. But of course, Scripture teaches otherwise.
It is not knowledge that was moved by the affections of God, it was flesh. God sent His Son. His affections for us were connected to physical and fleshly things, the holiest things.
If knowledge and connection are not the goals of soul cultivation, what is the goal? Most people would answer, love. This is the Great Commandment: love God, love people (Matthew 22:36-40).
When it comes to eternity and the summation of the Christian faith, many use the phrase “love wins.” But I think this is incomplete. Let me explain.
God showed the vivaciousness of his love through flesh. Flesh and the sacrifice of it are the ultimate outpouring of love. Love, as an intangible emotion, must be expressed in tangible ways. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). However, do you know where did Jesus die? Where was Jesus crucified?
The conclusion of God’s love is life.
How can this be so?
It’s what God’s love first births. Genesis 1 and 2 recount the creation of the world and mankind. God speaks, life and light are breathed into dust and darkness. Life is God’s first expression of love, and his final expression of love is eternal life.
Eugene Peterson says, “Every time a baby is born the gospel is preached.”
The summation of the Christian faith is not love wins, it’s life wins.
Over the past few months my son has gotten into the habit of walking over to me as I stare at the screen on my phone. He’ll extend his arm and hand, reaching out for me. “Daddy! Backa-ball” He wants to play. I’ll grab his hand, and he’ll lead me into the living room and hand me the small, plastic basketball.
It’s easy to see these moments as necessary things. My son needs and wants attention, love, and care. I must, necessarily, give these things to him. But what if it’s more than that? What if it’s these moments that are the holiest?
Not the quiet, Jesus-and-me time. Not the moments of sharing God’s Word to hoards of people willing to listen. The simple moment, wrestling with my son as I teach him how to play defense next to the three-foot tall backa-ball hoop.
I got to be part of another one of those holy moments of life recently, as my wife and I welcomed our daughter into the world. Labor and birth are messy, noisy, painful things. But they are chalk-full of holy. Flesh entering into the world.
If Jesus teaches us anything, it’s that the holiest moments are not found in quiet meditation. No, the holiest moments are when two Images of God crash into each other.
Please welcome Adelynne Joy Braun into our world. Born January 29th. 8 lbs. 1 oz. 20.5 inches long. We anticipate many more holy moments ahead as we love and care for her, with your support.