Here and Now: Israel

From Genesis 12 onward, the Story moves from a universal view to one told through the life experience of one people: Israel.  Some years ago, Eugene Peterson noted that Israel is the name given to both a people and a place–God’s way of saying that the two go together. [1].  God unites human and humis, heaven and history. It’s what we mean when we say spirituality is reality.

The spiritual life occurs at the nexus of a people and a place in a here-and-now moment in time.  When they are separated we are left with hypothetical holiness.  Our beliefs remain untested theories.  Place (here) and time (now) is the crucible for discerning the reality of our faith.

A Peanuts cartoon showed what happens when we separate people and places.  Charlie Brown says, “I love humanity; it’s people I cannot stand.”  Losing a here-and-now disposition leaves us living in La La Land. 

 Cultivating a here-and-now disposition means connecting with the earthy, tangibleness of life. Our concepts are always verified via flesh-and-blood experiences.  Here-and-now keeps us united to where we are.  It’s what we call “lived theology.”  It’s what James meant when he wrote, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17).

[1] Eugene Peterson, ‘Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places’ (Eerdmans, 2005), 131-222.

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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