In my early Christian years, I became something of a theological zealot.
My devotional reading was Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, and my idea of relaxation was to bury my head in a commentary. Knowledge of God was my idea of closeness to God.
Decades later, and after many life experiences, I never lost that hunger for truth. And yet truth alone is not the answer to all of life’s challenges – it needs to be applied. Knowledge of what is right and true is distinct from the power we need to live it out.
The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power – 1 Corinthians 4:20
During those years I had come to see and experience many powerful interactions with the Spirit of God. I had seen what can happen when people of faith & passion pray, and when they work in the gifts of the Spirit.
I had seen enough to know that any expression of Christianity that excluded an ongoing experience of the Spirit was truncated.
And yet I saw an unnecessary polarisation among God’s people globally. There were the word-centred believers at one end, and the Spirit-centred believers at the other. And everyone seemed OK with that!
Despite the fact that each side could justify their position, and even criticise the other – I noted that each position was more an outworking of personal preference and personality, than it was of biblical balance. To a large extent too, believers adhered to the teaching and culture they first received through discipleship. Our first learnings tend to die hard.
A middle ground?
I began to argue that we should aim for the middle, encompassing a portion of Spirit and truth in some form of balance. But I soon concluded that you cannot cut these two elements in half – they are either fully valid or they are not.
The only healthy balance is found in fully embracing 100% of both Spirit & truth.
Those who argue for one over the other are missing the fullness of God which is only accessed through both elements combined.
And yet we need to clarify the focus here.
We are not to pursue either the power of the Spirit or knowledge of truth for their own sake. Both these pursuits, if they become primary to us, can lead us off in to excess and pride. As good as both these are, they are second prize.
Pursuit and partnership
First prize is found in union with Christ. This is the goal.
We are to pursue deep relationship with Him alone. And yet the dynamic momentum of that relationship holds the key to its fruitfulness. If our relationship with God is static, then so is our life.
But God is determined to have us on a journey – we are meant to be constantly moving on with Him. His relentless intention is that we progress from glory to glory.
That means we are involved in the process. It is not merely up to God to move us onward and upward. Our relationship with Him is not passive, we have a part to play, as does He.
Many assume that a pursuit of God will result in us merely sitting before Him in a form of static tranquility. Not so. There is to be a constant dynamic going on where we press forward in faith, and then we pull back in rest.
These rhythms evolve. They go through various seasons as we grow. All require us to do something, then rely on God to do what only He can do.
There are more rhythms too, such as walking & working; and even faith & deeds. They all have their moment and purpose in our journey.
Download the free E-Book: Introduction to the Rhythms of Grace to get some background on what these rhythms are, and how they help us grow.
Rhythms of grace
The outcome of these rhythms, and the motivation for engaging in them is to gain first prize – union with Christ. They are facets of your relationship with Him that bring you to new seasons of life.
Want to know more about these rhythms?
Head over to the resources section and grab a copy of the book: Unlocking the Rhythms of Grace. It is great for personal or group study. But it is also a powerful tool for pastors to lead their congregation into a church-wide campaign of growth.
Each rhythm discussed in the book introduces principles that are fully applied in a separate and specific transformational course on how to grow in that area.