Worldly Holiness–Down & In, Not Up & Out


One Cross over Barcelona, originally uploaded by papalars.

For more than thirty years, I have felt, on and off again, that there was something more to the Christian journey than my current experience was telling me. During my college years in particular, I sometimes became incredibly disillusioned with my own progress in Christian maturity as well as the lack of clarity and purpose in my life. Disappointingly, I also found few people (thank goodness there were some), who really inspired me to pursue the greater things of God and his kingdom. In this state of mind, I was drawn to the Jesuit movement as a phenomenon of the Counter Reformation in my undergraduate studies. I was intrigued especially with the correlation of the “Spiritual Exercises” of Ignatius of Loyola, how he developed an intentional approach to cultivating the inner life, and the impact this Catholic order had on the world in mission. As an evangelical, I observed the curious contrast with the “Protestants” who seemed more concerned about arguing doctrinal points. Granted, the dynamics of the Reformation and Counter-reformation were more complex and nuanced than this simplistic first impression. I was somewhat captivated but troubled at the same time.

Needless to say, I was set on a journey in these early years to find models and to live as best I could the healthy integration of the inner life of a follower of Jesus Christ and the expression of that life outwardly, in the world of action and mission. I was also concerned about personal integrity, wanting to live with others in a way that said something about the story we claim to live by. I will never be content to know, in an intellectual sense, that right doctrine is enough if the expression of that life does not bear “fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

My journey continues today. I have had some personal failures as well as success in this venture. Thankfully, I have also found that I am not alone. I am doing some writing and thinking on these areas currently and I´d love it if you joined me. This section will be tagged ¨worldly holiness.¨ I chose this combination of words for the juxtaposition of two ideas which are not usually combined. I want to bind these two often opposing ideas together. I think a true Biblical faith does the same. More on this later. If this gets too thick or heavy, let me know by email. Or simply enjoy the pictures that accompany each post. As always, comments are welcome.

This picture is from Park Guell above Barcelona. I like it because it is a place for solitude, reflection and prayer, if you can get away from the rush of tourists [I’m no longer a tourist of course]. But the city is always there in view. So my reflection and prayer is not cloistered away from the reality of this place. That I think is part of what “worldly holiness” is all about. Any spirituality worth its salt in the Kingdom of God must be connected to life on the streets. It must be down & in, not up and out of life´s challenges.

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