Moving from “Devotional Life” to a Devoted Life!
Most mornings these days I hear my middle child stirring around 7:00 a.m. It’s summertime – typically a time of year when Monday morning would call for sleep, well into the day.
Yet Luke rolls out of bed – quite literally – around 7:00 a.m., on his own.
Because summer workouts are in full – swing. His injury is slowly healing and he’s working hard to be a vital part of this year’s team.
He knows that the part he may play tomorrow is going to depend on the devotion he shows today.
He also knows that as he practices devotion, his desire will grow. As his desire grows, his dependence on others will come into play – this is what it means to be on a team.
It’s also what it means to be a part of a community.
A little-known but vital truth is this:
The practice of devotion within community moves us toward desire for community.
Both devotion and desire are most fully experienced within the context and contours of community.
When the Team Becomes a Life-Line
Luke calls this experience of devotion and desire a brotherhood. It’s more than team, it’s a life-line to who he is and who he is becoming. The role he plays – even if it’s not his preferred role – in helping his ‘brothers’ become all they can be is shaping him in deeply meaningful ways.
But he won’t just roll out of bed and land in delight. Delight – deep and meaningful joy within the context of others – begins with devotion. The practice of devotion is critical in the process of transformation. Transformation, as I am defining it, is the process of lasting change within the context of community.
The experience of moving from devotion, to desire, to delight is, in many ways, the first and most essential gift of Pentecost. As such, it is first tasted in the Upper Room (Acts 2). It is then experience, explored, and encouraged by the earliest believers as well as the Church historic.
A Sacred Hope of the Human Heart
Pentecost is nothing less than the moment in time when devotion re-roots in the soil of the human heart. Pentecost results in a people (not just person) of God who are animated by the presence of the Christ’s spirit. The internal presence of Christ’s Spirit stirs the reality of His fruit into external action.
The chief of which, I am contending, is devotion.
The Life-Breathing Spirit and the Community He Creates
The presence of Christ animates the Fruit of the His Spirit within the life of the believer.
To animate means, to breathe life, give live, or make alive.
Pentecost, in a uniquely restorative – though not entirely new – way, makes the presence of Christ, which manifests his Fruit not merely possible, but also probable.
Paul notes, in Galatians 5, how the reign of Christ now invades the very core of the believer. As such, His Fruit is realized in our life. I
n Galatians 5:22-23 we read,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Recall our definition of devotion: to be faithful to, to attach oneself to, continue in, keep close company with, or – my personal favorite – to persist obstinately in.
It’s as if the thread of devotion runs through the entire Fruit. If that’s the case, it makes perfect sense. Christian theology does, after-all, rest on the settled and firm conviction that our heavenly Father has been and remains faithful and devoted to us. Devotion doesn’t just run through everything He does, but it’s a part of the fabric of who he is!
Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness?
They all call for devotion.
Self-control? Yes, self-control demands devotion.
The possibility that this can become our way of life – the devoted life – shifts to probability through the restorative work of Christ and the abiding presence of His Spirit.
It’s all, through and through, a gift of grace!
Yet, the possibility of a devoted life didn’t begin at Pentecost. Indeed, the experience of God’s Spirit within and among us is as old as Creation, for it’s in Creation when God breathes life into Adam and Eve (cf. Gen. 2:7 -15).
In other words, this outcome of Pentecost is also the initial experience of creation.
More on this next week!
Disrupting to Renew!