How do you understand the following traditional evangelical doctrines: a) repentance; b) justification; c) regeneration; d) sanctification? What are the marks of the Christian life?
Whenever I think of the Christian life, a quote I heard Anne Lamott give (whether or not it actually originated with her) comes to mind: God loves you just the way you are… and loves you too much to let you stay there. The Christian faith journey is just that – a journey, a process of discovering our true selves as created by God. In many ways, these four doctrines are lacking because they don’t acknowledge one that must precede them – God’s prevenient grace that allows us to see our need for repentance. The wonder of God is that the instant we recognize our sinful state is the same moment justifying grace is extended to us; in acknowledging our sin we are given grace by which we can be transformed. This begins a lifelong process of growth and transformation and practice and mistakes and setbacks and return to God for forgiveness and renewal and going on to perfection that makes the Christian life.
We can see evidence of that growth through the three very basic and simple virtues – faith, hope, and love. Working on these papers, a quote was shared with me from Teresa Fry Brown that claims, “Hope hearing the song of the future. Faith is the courage to dance to it.” I would add that love is inviting others to take your hand and join in. We were created for relationship with God and with the rest of creation. Unless we are willing to take a leap of faith and actively participate in the transformative love of God, unless we are willing to have hope in the promise that all of creation will be renewed, we are denying the precious gift we have been given and continue to be in need of God’s grace.
Photo by: Stephen Eastop