Jen Wise, over at Restoration Living, recently interviewed me on the subject of rescripting the Christian life. This is part 2 of a 2-part interview. Click here to read Part 1 which includes Jen’s unique introduction.
Jen: In Chapter 3 of Revise Us Again you exhort readers to resist making all things ‘religious’. At Restoration Living we exhort readers to see all things as spiritual. The difference between these two is important. How do we help move Christians from ‘making everything religious’ to ‘seeing everything as spiritual’?
Frank: It depends on how one defines these terms. In the book, “religious” means being pretentious and/or legalistic. (I define legalism in the book and here as well.)
In the NT, the word “spiritual” has to do with that which is governed by the life of Christ, i.e., the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere, I’ve spoken a great deal about living by the indwelling life of Christ. This reality is central to Christianity.
A spiritual person, according to Paul, is a person whose soul and body is governed by the Holy Spirit through their regenerated spirits. We’re not talking about perfection here. But the overall pattern of one’s life.
Being “religious” is the fallen soul’s way of trying to duplicate the job of the Holy Spirit.
Jen: I love the idea of recapturing our original, pre-fall, created purpose (pg. 63 of Revise Us Again). What do you believe this is? How should it shape our day-to-day lives?
Frank: Well, it’s not something I can explain easily. I’ve written a 300-page book entitled From Eternity to Here which unveils the eternal purpose of God from Genesis to Revelation and makes it practical.
I’ll simply say that Genesis 1 and 2 and Revelation 21 and 22 are unique to all the Bible. They are the only chapters in Scripture that are untouched by sin. Genesis 1 and 2 are pre-Fall; Revelation 21 and 22 are post-Fall.
If you count the items in Genesis 1 and 2, you will find around 30 of them. Interestingly enough, all 30 reemerge in Revelation 21 and 22.
Your Bible is the unfolding drama of those 30 themes. And they have everything to do with what Paul calls “the eternal purpose” in Ephesians 3.
Your readers can get a taste of what I’ve written and spoken on the eternal purpose by checking out this blog post. I’ll simply say that God’s purpose goes far beyond saving lost souls and making the world a better place. People come to this conclusion because they begin the story in Genesis 3 with the Fall, which is very common. But the story begins in Genesis 1.
Jen: We aim to help readers see the ordinary through God’s eyes (pg. 122 of Revise Us Again), specifically with our ‘Living’ articles. What ordinary moments strike you personally, and why? How has this outlook been transformative?
Frank: If you examine the Lord’s parables, He spoke about many ordinary things. Birds, lilies, trees, mustard seeds, farmers, wheat, tares, etc.
Because Jesus was in constant communion with His Father, He learned to see these ordinary things through His Father’s eyes.
Just take the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 6, for instance. There He speaks about the birds of the air not worrying about what food they will eat. And the lilies of the field not worrying about what they will wear.
Jesus repeatedly said that everything He taught came from His Father. So imagine Him in His twenties thinking about how He would put food on the table to feed His family (Joseph had passed away, and Jesus was the firstborn, so He was responsible for caring for the family).
Imagine Jesus walking across a field with lilies. He also sees some birds flying over the field. Then imagine the Father speaking within Him something to the effect of, “My Son, look at the birds. I take care of them, and they don’t worry for a second about food. The lilies don’t worry about what to wear, for I clothe them each day. How much more are you worth to me than these things? Worry not, I will always take care of you.”
Later, Jesus gives this as a teaching to us.
In a similar way, throughout the years, the Lord has taught me various things through nature about Himself and about the Christian life. The same with events and even films. (I have blogged about seeing Christ through films.) The things I’ve learned through those “ordinary things” make up the content of much of my books, blog posts, and audios.
Jen: What role does community play in spiritual formation? What does it look like to receive another’s spiritual portion (pg. 132 of Revise Us Again)?
Frank: In the book, I explain how Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that we not only hear the Lord as an individual, but we hear Him through His body. Specifically (according to the text), a functioning body of believers in a particular locale.
Each Christian is a member of the body of Christ. None of us have all truth, revelation, and knowledge. The hand cannot do what the foot does. They need each other.
One of the main purposes of assemblying together (what we call “church” or ekklesia), according to the NT, is to give what we have received from the Lord to the others parts of the body. And to receive what they have been given. This brings us to a NT word that we don’t hear much about today. That word is “fullness.”
When a local body of believers is functioning as it should, the life of Jesus Christ is supplied to the members of the body from the members of the body and Christ’s fullness is made manifest.
I’ve written an entire series of books about this called the ReChurch. In it, I explore and raise questions about how ekklesia (“church”) in the NT meant something very different from what most Christians experience or mean when they use the word “church” today. And what the practical implications might be.