It is difficult to speak about the spiritual needs of thirty to sixty years olds. The main reason for the difficulty is that I am in the age group (36) so the places of struggle are very real. To think about work as play, about the importance of repenting from workaholism, and remembering our call to die to self so that we can live is way too close to home.
Then I am reminded that is not a sermon if it has not convicted me first. This week has been filled with much convicting and a call to new life!
“But while in the First Age we are nurtured within a community of faith, in the Second Age, we become full members of that community as Truth makers, Beauty stakers, and Goodness sakers.”
Len Sweet in The Well Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have to Be Such Hard Work, 140-1.
Truth and truth-telling is a significant value in my life. From early childhood I remember my father reminding me of the importance of telling the truth, later becoming the importance of character, integrity, and a good reputation. These are virtues that are formed in us over time and I cannot think of a time when they are more severely tested than during these years of family, career, and social mobility. What strikes me from Len’s challenge is that we are not just to be truth-tellers but truth-makers. We are to be a people who are living in ways that help communicate through our actions the truth’s of our life; a life centered on the joy of Christ.
A few weeks ago I spoke about my own encounter with beauty. It was a reminder that God uses beauty to awaken us to the reality of God’s kingdom. To be a beauty staker we must develop a theological imagination, we must grieve for the ways that the world does not reflect God’s peace. Beauty sustains our hope for a better day, for the in-braking of God in the world once more. Awareness of beauty is difficult in the midst of life. I think this might be why Len tells us to be “stakers” in beauty. We must claim it, expect it, own it, in order to experience it.
Goodness is one of God’s attributes. Through the Spirit we too can model goodness in the world and behave for the sake of goodness. Yet even though we are capable through the Spirit to be about goodness in the world and in our lives it seems so difficult. Yet time and time again we are called back to it. The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, called the people called Methodist to be about “doing good.” This is not simple do-goodism, instead is an attitude of loving kindness in our actions everywhere and always.
I am calling my age group to a time of self-reflection this weekend. To consider what it means to live a joy-filled life in Christ. Remembering that what matters most in our lives and what brings the most joy is the relationships, the memories made, and the way that the Spirit shapes us through the journey called life.
Can’t wait to share a word with you this weekend!