Dear Shadowland Family,
If you read Emily Groves’ email last week, you may remember this quote from her:
“I don’t remember well. In fact, I’ve never remembered well. I literally don’t recall my childhood prior to age 12 except for a handful of isolated events. And when it comes to remembering spiritual milestones and breakthroughs in my life, I’ve come to realize that I forget more often than I remember.”
I very much appreciate Emily’s admonition for us to “be a people who practice the discipline of remembering” I would like to build upon the idea that remembering is an essential trait of discipleship.
2 Peter 1:3-9 is a favorite passage and helps to remind me of the importance of remembering.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”
There is a lot to glean from this passage. I find several key ideas about daily living in the kingdom of God.
God, the king, provides everything we need. When we enter the kingdom of God we surrender everything to His reign over our lives. We look to the king for not only sustenance but also protection and strength. Our days are shaped by our trust in our king.
In his kingdom we enjoy a relationship with the king that is deeply intimate. So much so that we are endowed with his very nature. He dwells within us. As we nurture that relationship, we will find relief from corruption and evil in our lives and increasingly enjoy the benefits of living under the reign of God our king.
Living in the kingdom of God brings the responsibility of being good subjects of the king. The fundamental trait of people living in the kingdom of God is that they are uncompromising in their trust of the king. For that trust to be demonstrated, we must use the knowledge and power he has given us to be effective and productive citizens of his kingdom. Our efforts are to be directed toward adding the qualities of goodness, knowledge, self- control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our trust of God.
If we are not seeing these qualities increasing in our lives, Peter says we are nearsighted and blind and have forgotten that our sins are forgiven. This is, for me, a critical aspect of understanding and living out the gospel in my life. As I consistently struggle with being a good citizen in God’s kingdom, what am I to do about my failures? And just as important, why do I keep failing?
In contrast to some Christian counsel on these questions which mostly insists that I “do better”, Peter defines the core problem: forgetting our sins are forgiven. Thus, rather than frantically running about doing better, or perhaps, giving up in despair, I need to remember and keep being reminded that my sins are forgiven. It is the power of the Gospel, the goods news, that enables and sustains me daily to be a good citizen of God’s kingdom.
I believe the need to remember and continually be reminded of our forgiveness explains why community (the body of Christ, church) is so important. In the absence of community, we give up the best source of and context for remembering our forgiveness. For that reason, I would suggest that an important metric for Shadowland is whether or not the Gospel is our centerpiece, and, to what extent every aspect of community life is in someway reminding me of the Gospel… my sins are forgiven.