Making All Things New – Hacked

Henri Nouwen, for all of his scholarship and academic pedigree, was a master at taking aspects of the spiritual life and making them accessible and appealing. I have read his book, The Way of the Heart, many times and his Return of the Prodigal Son is one of my all time favorite books. I have recently completed reading Making All Things New and would highly recommend it as an introduction to the spiritual life and to the use of two important disciplines – solitude and community. I have provided my summary notes below so that you also can draw key insights from this book.

Our Present State

– We all share the same human condition

– Resignation of our spiritual state keeps us from growing

– Our occupations and preoccupations fill our external and internal lives to the brim and leave no room for God

Setting Our Hearts On the Kingdom of God

– A heart set on the Kingdom of God is a heart set on the spiritual life

– Jesus was concerned with one thing: to do the will of his father

– Everything that belongs to Jesus is given for us to receive. John 15:15

– Kingdom of God = rich variety of ways in which God makes his presence known to us

– In the Kingdom, everything is a gift or challenge that strengthens and deepens our new life.

– Hearts set on the kingdom = worries will slowly move to the background

Spiritual Disciplines

– Spiritual Disciplines allow us to become attentive to the voice of God and respond to it

– God constantly speaks but we seldom hear it.

Solitude

– If God is who he says he is then he deserves our undivided attention

– We often use our outer distractions to shield us from interior noises

– We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside time to be with God and listen to him.

– A day without solitude is less spiritual than a day with it.

– To fight distractions, use scripture as a way to focus.

– Solitude= living active lives in the world while remaining always in the presence of God

Community

– True community – always reveals to us who we are before God.

– Community is obedience practiced together

Conclusion

– Through solitude and community we try to remove the many obstacles which prevent us from listening to God’s voice.

– Spiritual Life – active presence of God’s Spirit in the midst of a worry filled existence

– If we are faithful to our disciplines, a new hunger will make itself known. First, we will start to recognize God’s presence. Then we will be led deeper into the Kingdom of God. Finally, all thing will begin to be made new.

How To Live Without Worry

Yesterday, I taught my Sunday School class a lesson on worry. This lesson came from the part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6) when Jesus instructs his listeners to “not worry.” He explains that the birds of the air and flowers on the ground are both taken care of by God so why wouldn’t a believer expect to be taken care of so much more fully?

I am a high worrier and always have been but I have made some progress in this area, thanks to God showing me two things. First, I have learned that Christ lives inside me (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20). Through this reality, I begin to filter my situations through the Jesus filter. For example, if I am worried about looking like a failure to others I run that worry in front of the Christ who dwells inside me. I realize that Jesus doesn’t have bias, hangups, personal whims, and sin that cloud his judgement. I realize that Jesus will see my heart and my true intentions and will not remove his presence from me no matter my earthly successes or failures. I understand that he is merciful, accepting and loving and most other people are not. I realize that Jesus has the ability to fully grasp a situation and my role in it and understand the truth while other people do not have the capability of doing this. I may screw up and sin and fail to live up to Christ’s standard but unlike fickle and disjointed humans whose love and acceptance may be superficial, Christ love is full of depth and intensity that will not be undone by mere circumstances.

Secondly, I understand that I am a part of the Kingdom of God and that inside the Kingdom is abundant blessing. The Beatitudes are not a laundry list of “to-dos” but an example of how no matter your circumstance, God has a blessing for you when you are seeking his Kingdom and his righteousness. So, why should I worry when I have the savior of the world and the most loving person who ever stepped foot on earth living inside of me? Why should I worry when God is in the business of turning undesirable things into glorious things and that my situations, no matter how dire it may be, can be transformed into exactly what I need and what will be best for me.

I may never let go of worry in my life but I have learned, in specific circumstances, to quickly find that point in which the assurance and realization of who I am in Christ and the availability of blessing in God’s kingdom reminds me that worry is a fruitless endeavor and one of Satan’s deepest tricks.

For more on the idea of the indwelling of Christ, read James Bryan Smith’s Good and Beautiful God.