Desert Wisdom: Continuity and Identity

My choice to blog each week in relation to early Christianity is deliberate, and I assume it will remain a regular feature of Oboedire.  I simply cannot imagine trying to provide solid spiritual formation without remaining connected to this foundational period in the life of faith.

Admittedly, Bunge’s book (at least for me) emerges from a particular part of the Christian tradition that I know only in a small way, compared to other parts.  But his book is very helpful to me to understand formation in community, versus the overly privatized forms of the spiritual life which swirl around us today.

In this post, I want to note his assertion that learning from the tradition provides us with continuity and identity (p. 25).

Honestly, when I first read his sentence, I was tempted to reverse the order and put identity first.  Then, I realized this was my “old” tendency toward privatization.  But “the old has passed away; the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17), and I want to go on record testifying that Bunge has the order right.

Before I ever even knew there was such a thing as Christianity, much less came to the place of committing my life to Christ, the community (Church) was already there.  In fact, it was that community which alerted me to all this in the first place—and invited me to become a Christian–to become a “new creation”—a new piece in the holy mosaic God was “continuing” until Jesus returns.

I stepped into a stream that was already flowing, and when I “got wet” in Jesus (as Savior, Lord, Teacher, Friend, Brother, etc), I came to know my identity in him and in the fellowship that’s created as other “wet followers” (disciples) swim together.

As Bunge so rightly observes, this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us—the ministry that creates, converts, consecrates, commissions, and continues the same pattern over and over.  As we will see in this study of Bunge’s book, we even learn to pray (identity) because of the prior praying (continuity) done by those who have lived before us.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Desert Wisdom: Continuity and Identity

  1. Cindy Schutz says:

    Praise God for such a great cloud of witnesses, who have been faithful in spite of difficulties. That I would be committed to do the same…

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