Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Becoming Gardeners, N.T. Wright

Here is an exert from a recent N.T. Wright book I read. I love that God never really provides answers about how to follow him. He just says, "Follow me." For example, we are left to find some sort of balance between spiritual discipline and knowing the God is the only force that can transform us to be more like Christ.

"The key is this: the "fruit of the spirit" does not grow automatically. The nine varieties of fruit do not suddenly appear just because some one has believed in Jesus, has prayed for God's spirit, and has then sat back and waited for "fruit" to arrive. Oh, there may well be strong and sudden initial signs that fruit is on the way. Many new Christians, particularly when sudden conversion has meant a dramatic turning away from a lifestyle full of the "works of the flesh," report their own astonishment at the desire that springs up within them to love, to forgive, to be gentle, to be pure. Where you ask, has all this come from? I didn't use to be like this. That is a wonderful thing, a sure sign of the Spirit's working.
But this doesn't mean it's all downhill from there. These are the blossoms; to get the fruit you have to learn to be a gardener. You have to discover how to tend and prune, how to irrigate the field, how to keep birds and squirrels away. you have to watch for blight and mold, cut away ivy and other parasites that suck the life out of the tree, and make sure the young trunk can stand firm in strong winds. Only then will fruity.

and then later...
"Christian, virtue is the gift of God and the result of the person of faith making conscious decisions to cultivate this way of life and these habits of heart and mind. In technical language, these things are both "infused" and "acquired," though the way we "acquire" them is itself, in that same language, "infused.' We are here, as so often theology, at the borders of language, because we are trying to talk at the same time about "something God does" and "something humans do" as if God were simply another character like ourselves."

-N.T. Wright, After you Believe

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