Sermon on the Mount: Vision, Intention, Means

Dallas Willard Part 25 of 34

In 1993 Dallas began teaching an intensive two-week residential course for Fuller Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. His task was to teach about spiritual life in a systematic way so that its full connection to the work of the minister was clear. These sessions from 2012 are from Dallas’s last year of teaching the course before he died. Though a bulk of the course was usually centered on the nature and practice of disciplines, the beginning of the course dealt with more theological themes like the nature of spiritual reality and the end of the course dealt with topics in spirituality like vocational issues. [Editor’s Note: We know that the class was taped on other occasions and would be glad to find these recordings.]


Again, turn to your notebook and I want to give you again a verse that I have already given you but I believe in giving it over and over in trying to teach this material and this is Deuteronomy 33:27 and this will give you the scriptural reference back of the Psalms. So, this is talking about how God dealt with Israel, verse 26: “There is none like the God of Jeshurun who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is a dwelling place,”—see that’s a theme that shows up over and over in the Old Testament and the Psalms and then of course you get it renewed in John 15, don’t you? There the picture is of branches abiding or dwelling in a vine. “The eternal God is a dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms; so, the song now is “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Any of you know it?  Ah, good, we are getting better. [1:19]  [Singing]


What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms,

What a blessedness what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, Leaning, Safe and secure from all alarms,

Leaning, Leaning, Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,

Leaning on the everlasting arms,

Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, Leaning, Safe and secure from all alarms,

Leaning, Leaning, Leaning on the everlasting arms.


What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.  [3:18]


Now, maybe you could take that and put drums and guitars and keyboards to it and call it a praise song.  Now, it’s not quite long enough but…… [laughter]….stretch it out. You know, the definition of a praise song is two notes, three words, and fifteen minutes so that didn’t quite go for 15 minutes. We could just stretch it out a bit.


Now, of course, I am—the really basic vision of the Gospel is precisely the everlasting arms and living as a spiritual being in a spiritual world that is over all the physical world and that is a vision of the Kingdom of God and life in the Kingdom of God and the Gospel invitation is to come live in the Kingdom of God with Jesus NOW. In that position then, as I have said, this world or wherever you are is a perfectly safe place to be. [5:02]


I will read a story I love from Amy Carmichael, a missionary to children in India for many years and a person who new what trouble was but also knew what beauty was and what it was to live in the greatness of God.


“Her name was Lala. She was five years old—a Brahman child of much promise. She had sickened suddenly with an illness which we knew from the first must be dangerous. We couldn’t ask a medical missionary to leave his hospital a day and a half distance for the sake of one child but we did the best the could. We sent an urgent message to a medical evangelist trained at Nahor who lived near her and he came at once but he arrived an hour too late. Before he came, we had seen this: It was in that chilly hour between night and morning. A lantern burned dimly in the room where Lala lay. There was nothing in that darkened room to account for what we saw.  The child was in pain, struggling for breath, turning to us for what we could not give. I left her with Mabel Wade and Panamel and going to a side room, cried to our Father to take her quickly. I was not more than a minute away but when I returned, she was radiant. Her little lovely face was lighted with amazement and happiness. She was looking up and clapping her hands as delighted children do and when she saw me, she stretched out her arms, flung them around my neck as though saying goodbye. In a hurry to be gone, then she turned to the others in the same eager way and then again holding out her arms to someone to whom we could not see. She clapped her hands. Had only one of us seen this thing, we might have doubted but we all three saw it and there was no trace of pain in her face. She was never to taste of pain again and we saw nothing in that dear child’s face but unimaginable delight. We looked where she was looking, almost thinking that we would see what she saw. What must the fountain of joy be if the spray from the edge of the pool can be like that.” [8:00] She was safe.


On page 160 of your notebook, there is a nice thing attributed to St Patrick, a kind of daily enclosure. It’s been given the name “The Shield of St. Patrick.” It is a daily “taking on” of the protection of the everlasting arms.


I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity,

by invocation of the same, the three in one, the one in three.

I bind this day to me forever by the Power of faith,

Christ’s Incarnation, His baptism in the Jordan River, His death on the Cross for my Salvation, His bursting from the spiced tomb, His riding up the Heavenly way, His coming at the day of doom.

I bind unto myself today.


I bind unto myself today the Power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need,

the wisdom of my God to teach, His hand to guide, His shield toward the Word of God to give me speech, His Heavenly hosts to be my guard.


Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me. Christ beside me. Christ to win me. Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ in quiet. Christ in danger.

Christ in hearts of all that love me. Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


I bind unto myself the name: the strong name of the Trinity by invocation of the same, the three in one and one in three. Of whom all nature hath creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word. Praise to the God of my salvation. Salvation is of Christ the Lord. [11:04]


Now, that’s an exercise in placing one’s self within the marvelous presence of the Trinity.


I wish that I had time to do a lot of these things but I just turned the page back to 159: The Little Gate of God and these are ways of making present the reality of the Kingdom and this is by a man named Walter Rousen Bush whose not normally thought of as a great practicer of Christian devotion but that’s unfortunate. He was a greater person who lived in devotion to Christ than anything that comes out in what became known as the Social Gospel and I put one set of pages over here that you might get a better impression of him but this is a marvelous little mediation.


In the castle of my soul is a little postern gate,

Where at when I enter, I am in the presence of God.

In a moment, in the turning of a thought, I am where God is.

This is a fact.


I just emphasize that that’s always there and it is for us to choose and I’ve said about fifteen times already, we live in this intersection of two landscapes—the physical and the spiritual and it is for us to decide where we will live. These exercises and more extensive practices that we’ve been engaged in here in some measure are designed to keep us living in the spiritual landscape while we live also in the physical but it is a question of where our mind is set. So, Paul’s phrase in Philippians “whose God is their belly who mind earthly things.” See it’s where your mind is and Romans 8: “the mind of this flesh is death and the mind of the spirit is life.” And again in Galatians 6: “they that sow to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting”—and please don’t think that’s just Heaven—“the life everlasting” is what is flowing to you and through you now. “They that sow to the spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” They that sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap,”—well, corruption but that doesn’t mean cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women. It means stuff that doesn’t last that falls apart. That’s what corruption is. Corruption is decay and disintegrating and so if you invest everything or you invest your life in the flesh that will be the outcome. If you invest your life in the Spirit, then you will be living eternally. You will have an eternal kind of life because what you are doing will be caught up in what God is doing and that is eternal life. Eternal living—you may want to change your language a little bit in preaching. Try eternal living instead of eternal life because your battling against a set of mistaken ideas about what this is—it’s almost impossible to overcome but if you shift the language just a little bit and you say, well, eternal living, that’s living interactively with God. That’s what John 17:3 is about. Well, then you’ve got a place to stand—a sort of running board to use an old fashioned idea on which you can mount up on the car or truck that is moving down the line. So, I recommend Rousen Bush and St. Patrick to you. [16:20]


OK; now, some of the things are too important to run the risk of not getting them right and so I want us to return now to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy to see if you had discussions. Perhaps by now you’ve been able to read it and that’s on page 80 and we really need to dig into this. Now what is presented in that piece is two options and you are left to take one of them. You can decide, “Well, I’ll be Dostoevsky” or the other one, “I’ll be Tolstoy” and in the one case, you accept what we today call “brokenness.” That’s Dostoevsky and the idea seems to be that if you accept brokenness, then grace will come. It won’t undo your brokenness because the idea is you are supposed to stay there and that’s the one end of the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect” but it’s much more than not being perfect. It’s just forgiven. That’s brokenness; just forgiven. So, the other end is “Try hard” and you are going to fail anyway so you will still be broken but you keep trying to live up to what is often presented as the impossible ideals, especially of The Sermon on the Mount. So, maybe you can fluctuate a little bit here. Dostoevsky is presented in the piece as someone who doesn’t fluctuate from brokenness; he’s just broken. He has grace and he continues to be a broken person and that’s—now, Tolstoy here is supposedly torturing himself and being broken at the same time but he keeps trying. Apparently, Dostoevsky doesn’t really try. So, the picture often given is, “That’s it.” Now, what I have been trying to suggest to you is this isn’t it. There is another option and that other option is training and the word I’ve used for that is indirection so you don’t just try hard to do the things that Jesus said. [20:39] You don’t just try hard; you train yourself. You learn how to do them. That is another option. Indirection says don’t just try hard: train yourself and training involves finding out why what happens in your life happens the way it does and changing those conditions. So, indirection and discipleship brings about Spiritual Formation and Christlikeness and that means that now the inner conditions of behavior are transformed.


And with that now in mind, I want to go back to the VIM pattern because this will only happen on the VIM pattern, okay? [He draws on board.] In case you don’t know this, chapter 5 of Renovation of the Heart is where the systematic discussion of this is and this whole picture is confronted there. Now, if you go to your church, probably and your colleagues and you try to present this, you are probably going to get a lot of static and maybe some flack because this shakes up the whole configuration of religion as we are used to it and that will be uncomfortable and so it’s really important to make sure of your Biblical basis for this so if you present it in terms of the Scripture with careful studies that solidly found this third way, then I think you are going to be okay. You will still have some challenges but one of the things that you will find is that if you are able to present this to people, many of them will grab ahold of it like a life line because they really cannot in their heart accept this alternative as exhaustive. But you do have to emphasize some points here and I wanted to especially talk about the “I” in the VIM for a few moments before I open it up for discussion and please put with the “I,” William Law, Chapter 2 of a Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. Actually, Chapter 2 and 3 but Chapter 2 is the one that is driving the point home about the importance of Intention. I read a few sentences from him here at the opening of Chapter 2, that book: “We may now reasonably inquire why the lives of even devout Christians are strangely contrary to the principles of Christianity.” Now, that is a theme that is brought up over and over and over and I’ve given you some literature here. A great way to get into it is Wilberforce’s book on the system of Christianity at his time. Why? See, Jesus’ questions, “Why do you call me Lord and don’t do what I say? [26:23]
Think of that as an inquiry that is designed to open up a fruitful line of thought; not something where He is just scolding you, you know? As much as possible, we need to get Jesus out of the category of the “scolder.” He teaches. If people call him “Lord” and don’t do what He says, then there is a reason. We need to look into it and I have a long sermon on the answer to that question which I am not going to give you here but you could probably preach a sermon on that. Why is it that people call Jesus Lord and don’t do what He says?


Now, He says, “Before I give a direct answer to this, I desire to inquire why swearing is so common a vice among Christians?” and in His day, it was very common and in fact, it’s not uncommon now. He says, “Why is it that two and three of the men are guilty of so gross and profane a sin as swearing?” Now, He’s talking about cussing. He’s not talking about swearing in the sense that we saw it in the Sermon on the Mount. That’s a different thing and He says, “We’ve got expressed commandments against it. The most plain doctrines and He says now, “Do but find the reason why the generality of men live in this notorious vice and you will have found the reason why the generality even of professed Christians lives so contrary to Christianity. So, in His very predestined way of developing these things where it is hard to miss the point, he goes on to say, the reason for common sweating is this. Men have not so much as the intentions to please God in all their actions. Intention; they haven’t decided to do that. Let a man but have so much piety as to intend to please God in all of his actions, and then he will never swear again. It is for lack of this intention that you see men who profess religion living and swearing and sensuality, that you see clergymen given to pride, covetousness, and worldly enjoyment. It is for lack of this intention that you see women who profess devotion living in all the folly and vanity of dress and wasting time in idleness and pleasures. So, he is quite relentless, isn’t he? Here therefore, let us judge ourselves sincerely. Let us not vainly content ourselves with the common disorders of our lives; rather let us be assured that these disorders of our daily life according to this, that we do not have so much Christianity as to intend to please God in all the actions of our life. [29:54]


Now, intention—so, now let’s go back to the Sermon on the Mount a bit and talk about that. Suppose one intended to move into the righteousness of the Kingdom of God and out of the righteousness of the Scribe and the Pharisee. That would mean, for example, what we saw in reference to anger and contempt and then the opposites of those. Suppose one intended to do that. Could it be done?  Now, probably we should give in and say, “if you don’t intend it, it won’t be done.” But, if one intended, could it be done? Well, now what I have been trying to suggest to you in this discussion of the sermon, “Well, yes, of course, it can be done.” There are ways that you can change so that in fact you are not troubled by lust and anger and all of those things that keep the pot boiling in ordinary humanity and frankly, in most of our churches. If you were to intend and so, a lot of angles you have to take on something as complicated as that but I wanted to just stress this one this morning and see if you have anything to talk about. Now, we’ve already said that “I” hangs on the “V.” The “I” hangs on the “V.” If you don’t have a vision, you won’t form the intention. Now, if you have the intention, then there are things that you can do and you can begin to see the amazing results of finding ways to implement the intention. [32:15]


Back on page 86 of your notebook, I have a page there about coming to grips with persistent failure—page 86 in the notebook and so this is a kind of workout line. This is something that can be done and let us suppose that you were wrongly governed by anger in your behavior. Well, the first thing you will want to try to do is find out what exactly happened. It may be as simple as well; you have a habit of screaming at your kid or the person on the church board that makes you exasperated. You have a habit. Okay, if that’s what the deal is, then you find out how to break the habit. At a conference some years ago, I had a—this is a conference the guy that ran it was aiming at the so called ‘uppercrust’ of society—people with a lot of money and this one man said to me after listening to me “carry on.” He said,  “You know, I cannot stop screaming at my son.” I said, “Oh, yes you can. I can tell you how.” The next time you do it, give $5,000 to your wife’s favorite charity and then keep doing that and you will find the habit drops off very rapidly. Now, see, that’s very simple. Well, he hadn’t decided to stop. Now, if he had decided to stop, there are ways that can be found that will help you and this is just like the old twelve step stuff over again. If you don’t take the means, you really didn’t decide to stop, you know? Intention is—it’s absolutely central—you have to form the intention and then when you fail at what you’ve supposedly decided to do away with, then you find out what went wrong.  Now, you can sort of imagine presenting that to your congregation and letting them chew on that and work on that or whatever group you are working with, you know, we need to present it to ourselves in some cases. So, one of the things that we learn to do is to recognize the approach of the action in question. One of the rationalizations that we use to fool our self is the idea that well, “it just jumps on you.” No, it’s always coming and one of the things that you have to train yourself to do is recognize it’s approach. You can perhaps hang on to that with the old song, “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes.” She doesn’t get here without coming around the mountain so that’s where you want to watch. What’s coming around the mountain? [36:16] And it is without exception true that you can learn to recognize the approach—now then, in order to do that, you may have to practice some solitude and silence to get enough distance in your life to be able to recognize “when she’s coming around the mountain.” And if you do that and you want to stop it, you can stop it. Now, if you let it go long enough, you can’t—but get off the conveyor belt while you can. That’s the secret, right? [37:02]


So, I don’t want to go over all the rest of this sheet but we want to make sure to call attention to it and ask you to think about it. You analyze the background facts. When you succeed, how did you succeed? When you failed, how did you fail? And then you neutralize those failing factors. Number 4 on this sheet, you find out how to eliminate them. That will get into your thinking and your feelings and your habitual actions and our social relationship but if you will make the changes there, then you will find that you can pacify the context and you can live in the broad horizon of the Kingdom and you will be able to do what you really intend to do.


Now, you say, many people look and say, “Well, where’s grace?” Well how about “all over the place?” Where is the Holy Spirit? Right there with you? Count on Him. Make sure you are inviting Him into your life. You may need to go back and do the St Patrick thing or something of that sort. It isn’t as if this is just a thing you learn to do and become a spiritual muscle man and the problem is that people talk about the Holy Spirit and they talk about grace but they don’t talk about this. That’s the problem. [38:53] It’s like a kid praying that God will help them with a test for which they refused to study and He won’t. Well, you know, who knows? It’s just; you better not count on it. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly luck; what are we talking about here? We are talking about denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, living soberly, righteously, Godly in the present world—looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing. See, that’s the whole picture. Right? [39:30]


And, then you begin to see the affects. I have a quotation in The Spirit of the Disciplines on page 165 from a young Japanese girl who was being introduced to disciplines and starting to practice them and here is what she said, “The more I practice this discipline of silence and solitude”—is what she was talking about—“the more I appreciate the strength of silence. The less I become skeptical and judgmental; the more I learn to accept the things I didn’t like about others.” Now, you see you have to think—really? Solitude and silence helps me learn to accept the things I didn’t like about a person? Yeah! Now, if someone were to tell you that, you probably would think, “What is this?” But, when you practice it, you find it true and that settles the issue. “The more I accept them as uniquely created in the image of God, the less I talk; the fuller are words spoken at an appropriate time; the more I value others, the more I serve them in small ways; the more I enjoy and celebrate my life; the more I celebrate, the more I realize that God has been giving me wonderful things in my life and the less I worry about my future. I will accept and enjoy what God is continuously giving to me. I think I am beginning to really enjoy God.” Now you see, you are stepping into the reality of the Kingdom when you go that way. [41:24]


Now, then, when we go back and look at this situation with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, we can perhaps say, “Well, what was missing?” and, you know, the context I’m sure well enough. There was no instruction in this. Fundamentally, that group had accepted the eucebious distinction and you had some priests that were remarkable, holy people; some nuns—remarkably holy people, and everyone knew that. They also knew that you had a lot of people in religious garb who were remarkably God-less people and so they really had no idea at what to do and they were not taught, they were not given the Gospel. Tolstoy, when he, he talked a lot about the Kingdom of God but it was a mixture of mysticism about the peasants and issues of social justice and his own class of people, he couldn’t really do anything with them and of course, they were a large part of the problem in that setting. OK; let me stop now and see if you have comments or questions about this. [43:00]


Q: How do we strike the proper balance between psychology and the kingdom of God?


A: We have to depend on the experts because someone like me—I mean I can rattle on and on about a lot of stuff—but you know, I don’t spend my time working in the details and those are the people who do that are the ones who are going to have to write a Christian psychology. See, we have lots of Christian psychologists and that’s good and it was frankly drawn from the fact that people were forced to recognize that we are getting

Nowhere. Christians are in a mess and we have preachers who are seriously crazy, you know? [Amen] And maybe they are great platform personalities. I remember one of the most well known preachers in the Southern Baptist many years ago, he couldn’t stay at a church for very long because he would have—as what they said—woman trouble; and three years is about as long as he would stay but he was so effective that the denominational leaders would continue to cover for him and shift him around because boy, when he would move to a church, it would get going—in more senses than one but you know, in terms of attendance, buildings and cash, he was really good. He was really good.  But, you see, people know this and they know about—you may recall the case some years ago where the pastor got angry at a subordinate in a service and forgot to turn his mic off and followed him out into the parking lot and just tore him to pieces with shall we say—colorful language? Well, you know, you ‘ve got to say, “Thank God” for mics—maybe we ought to make people wear them all the time but of course that would be the way of the Scribe and the Pharisee and we don’t want to go there. They will figure out how to handle it somehow. So, something has to be done. [45:17]


Now, thank God the Christian psychologists are coming together with spiritual formation and that I think is one of the things that will help. If we have to be constantly “bucking” against something like this alternative as the only ways to go [points to “Try Hard” on the board] then the person that is working in spiritual formation and spiritual psychology will have this wall of resistance and the idea will continue to be there that there is another way of doing it—maybe the filling of the Spirit would do it or something else but it doesn’t and if you look at history, you find that there are ways you can do. Nothing perfect—we are not aiming at perfection; just a lot better. (46:27).


Q: If you have someone you are helping, how long do you wait to pass them off to a psychologist?


A: Well, you need to know whom you are “passing them off” to and just the fact that they are a psychologist; I would think you need to know more than that. In particular, you need to know something about, are they able to pray? And is prayer a part of their psychological ministry? And so, you need to know details—now sometimes you get people who are in such bad shape that you have to do something; get them medication or something or they are going to hurt somebody very badly so in that case, go for help. But if you have a situation that is not at that point, then I would say the ideal would be for you and your church to know the psychologists who are available. (47:29)


Q: How do you feel about dealing with the opposite sex?


A: Well, that’s always a very big problem and so then, you are talking about pastors dealing with the opposite sex? Well, I think that’s a situation where again you have to know the person and if you are on a church staff, there should be discussion of this and review constantly and sensible provisions for preventing something from developing but now, see the background of this is what is the teaching that is going on? Is there any teaching that is given to help people that are troubled with sexual temptation in a way that is pretty likely going to blow up, see? Our churches need to be dealing with that in teaching. We need teaching—the things that we’ve been talking about here—The Sermon on the Mount and so on—they have to be taught from the pulpit if you are going to effectively deal with them. Really, I guess I would say that is the greatest lack at present. You don’t have honest, thorough work from the pulpit on these issues. Now, that’s my experience and so, you essentially waste the people’s time and send them away and they don’t get help. (49:13)


Q: Could you continue on a little more about Wesley and his ability to try?


A: Wesley did try hard but he also taught very deeply and carefully and he had a system of engagement—organized for his people and you can see—we are going to look at some of his rules for the band societies later on—and you can see that he is cutting close to the skin and he is really dealing with the issues. There was incidentally a later movement called “The Oxford Movement” that was strongly influence by the Wesleyan tradition because the Wesleyan tradition, under Wesley, was really drawing from the whole history of the church. It, frankly, did not deal with this issue of sexuality well and that was one of the things that blew it apart but they emphasize the same kinds of meetings and all of that—now, if you are going to do that, you are going to have a very careful oversight by people who know what is going on and know what to do about it. I just wanted to say—I mean there is more to Wesley and his people than trying hard. It got to the point to where there wasn’t. (50:30)


Q: In reading Wesley, the word “scold” is very important?


A: That’s how that comes over and here we want to be sure to look at why that wasn’t experienced as just scolding and also why scolding was accepted. See, that is an old tradition. I have a comic from some years back and it shows a lady going out of the church door and shaking the preacher’s hand and saying, “Nice deploring, Pastor” and it used to be thought that the preacher wasn’t really cooking unless he was scolding. So, we have to work through that. See, the tone is really important and that is one of the issues that is now, in our culture, standing in the way of people’s relationship to the churches is they identified very much with scolding and there is a lot there. So, that goes into families. The whole technique of scolding—how you deal with people in the form of educating them and guiding and so that has to be re-thought. That’s one of the things that I like to point out about Jesus—really the only case where He is giving a scolding is where He’s got religious authorities in front of Him and He does scold them there. He really gives them a going around.


I really do encourage people to go back and look fully at the Wesleyan tradition and I have a book up here that does something and I was hoping that some of you might have a look at it and have something to say about why what he is talking about won’t work and the extent to which it doesn’t actually coincide with Wesley’s class meetings and band societies and so on. Very interesting issue. Good man, love him but you know, when you are trying to talk about getting something that will accomplish an end, you have to keep your eye on that. (52:49)


Q: How does Christ express expectations?


A: I give you the Bonheoffer structure which is in the first part of Life Together and that is, your expectation of them goes through your expectation of Christ and then you teach them to respond to the hopes that you give them by teaching them to live with you under Christ so it’s a triangle and that’s what we have to help them understand that when I have an expectation of them, I am having that expectation under Christ. Now, if you are dealing with a Christian context, then you can do that and actually, I would highly recommend having a look, if you haven’t already, at Bonheoffer’s little book. You don’t have to do the whole thing. It’s the first part about how we meet one another and so now, then, you have very high expectations of your student but they know that you are not putting a burden on them. You are giving them hope because of Christ and you expect them to learn about that and do what they do with an attitude of expectancy from Christ. Now, then, when you do that, I believe that you are going to see things happen and your student will see things happening that will encourage them to think that Christ is there and that He can be counted on and therefore, they can hope and have high expectations without being crushed by them. [54:59]


So, you teach them to submit to Christ and do what they do as His people and again, that’s—we didn’t keep going there in Colossians 3 but that’s the next stage. The next stage is personal relationships. Now, you don’t start there. You start, “If you have been risen with Christ”—that’s where you start—and then you come down and by the time you get to “Submit to one another in the fear of the Lord.” (Question that I could not hear) Well, now this is where you simply have to find out what you can do and what you can’t do and I would push the envelope gently because what confronts the secular world is if they can’t do what Christ does and it needs to be done, what are they going to do? Are they just going to say, “Well, that’s very good but we can’t do that.”? Well, so, they are off-loading their prejudices on human beings. So, I know it’s very touchy but I believe you will find the way to do what you can do and sometimes it’s as simple a matter as them coming to know you and they find out, among other things that you do this other work and you see, many people in the secular setting are actually Christians paralyzed by the assumptions that they don’t know how to deal with them and they may think—you know, I’ve had people at USC thinking that they couldn’t have a Bible on their desk because it would be against the law—give us a break, you know? But, they have that. (57:01)


Q: Is there a danger of intellectualizing brokenness in place of treating it pastorally?


A: You’ve raised a really difficult issue because I think at bottom you are talking about what the individual is going to do in this situation, right? And in the case of a Pastor, that involves the congregation and a lot of other people. So, let me just say that I don’t think running from it, if that’s all you do, is going to prove helpful. The question is—What are the alternatives to that? That’s going to depend on your vision of what you are trying to accomplish and if it means that you have to violate our conscious to stay where you are, then that’s one thing and I would say that I would not do that because that will undermine your faith and your practices and it will not help people but if you don’t have to violate your conscience and you can stay where you are and speak and teach and lead where you are, that is a valuable service and you may need to say occasionally in the words of Isaiah, “I am a man of unclean lips and live in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” As long as you don’t have to—and Isaiah is just talking about how the bad stuff gets into the language—so you are really in a situation where you can’t just shake your garments and come clean so I think there, Tom, what I would say with absolutely no implication that I have authority in these matters is you have to judge what is loving and what is self-righteous and go with what is loving and try to stay out of self-righteousness. Now, as a matter of fact, many of the people who run are simply shaking their garments and fleeing to what they think is their own righteousness and usually that’s conceived in social terms—in larger terms—not all of them and I don’t mean to say that. There is a time to leave but I just think you can’t lay down a general rule about it and that you are going to—either way you go on this—you are going to find it isn’t perfect. [1:00:08]


Now, then I just want to add the one point which we spent a lot of time on yesterday and that is there are more basic issues we need to be attending to and if the church—either the one who stays or the one who runs—if they are not centering on something more important than dealing with this issue, they are not going to be able to deal with this issue. You have to be looking at something much more fundamental, much deeper which is summed up in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself, right? You need to be able to base your actions on that in my opinion and that involves the vision, the intention, and the means—“the whole shebang.”(1:01:00)


Q: Are schisms in the church really ever justified?


A: Absolutely: you have to go thoroughly and honestly through brokenness and keep it in your message and in your life. The thing I want to insist upon is you don’t have to live there but wherever you live, that will be in your memory and in your vision and as you look at yourself and at others, so, you don’t forget it. It’s just, “Is there anything more than brokenness?” I think one could even say, “Well, not until you take care of brokenness.” But then, then what? So that’s where I think especially people who are trained as you are and Denise and others here who have a special expertise, I’m not sure how you would do what you would do if you have to live in brokenness.


OK; let’s take fifteen minutes and we will start on study and prayer and things like that.

Listen to all parts in this Spirituality and Ministry 2012 series