Holy Love: Fresh Wind Blowing #3

​The new pentecost is more of a movement than it is an institution.  Jesus said that new wine must be poured into new wineskins (Matthew 9 17)), and that is what is happening today.  The fresh wind of the Spirit is blowing through a multitude of fresh expressions.  Some are part of the traditional/structural Church, others are springing up apart from it.  

This new axial age is not without form, however.  Just as the original creation moved from chaos into order, the new creation has an observable order in it as well.  We turn to this in today’s post. [1]

In a way that I did not see when I wrote ‘Fresh Wind Blowing’ six years ago, the essence of the order is love.  That’s why these introductory posts precede our upcoming exploration of the book ‘Holy Love.’  Thanks largely to the influence of Ilia Delio, I see love as the existential ordering of the entire cosmos. [2]  We are made by Love, to love.  When we live in love, we live in congruence with God, our humanity (imago dei), and our life purpose (the two great commandments).

Living in love brings us into community with others seeking to live the same way.  The first Pentecost described the believers as being “all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).  The history of Christianity shows that in times of renewal Christians form life-giving associations which nurture themselves and offer life to others.  This new order is simultaneously formative and missional.

The new order gives shape and substance to the new monasticism we looked at in the last post.  The new order is the new wineskins God is creating to hold the new wine of the Gispel in our day.  Social media reveals the diversity of opportunities to be in community.  This Oboedire site is a concrete example.  Technology enables us to find and connect with others around common callings and interests.

But more… and more importantly….we discover local groups with which we can affiliate to turn online participation into tangible engagement, so that our deepest passions are expressed in at-hand activity.  The Word becomes flesh through this kind of ordering.

This ordering requires leaders and participants who understand the nature and activities of spiritual orders—something different than institutional management and membership. I write about these roles in chapter three of ‘Fresh Wind Blowing,’ so I will not repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that living in love in the new ordering of things brings a sense of greater meaning and purpose to our lives  We thrive in our life together because holy love is always love in relationship.

The aim of all this (as I describe it in chapter four of ‘Fresh Wind Blowing’) is the exaltation of Christ.  Jesus said that when the Spirit is moving, “he will glorify me” (John 16:4).  Likewise, when the fresh wind of the Spirit is blowing, Christ increases and we decrease.  This why one of the surest signs that a group is not part of the new thing God is doing is when “groupism” and “group think” define things more than radical obedience to Christ—an obedience always more risky, but more genuine, than obedience to the group’s take on things.

Exalting Christ includes the necessity of questioning the status quo and critiquing sacred cows simply because Christ is bigger than our conventional wisdom and larger than the boxes we manufacture to hold it.  Christ inevitably leads us beyond our assumptions and associations, in order to show that he is all and in all (Colossians 3:11), not just in our group. This is part of what Paul meant when he told the Galatians to get out of the Judaisers’ box (of legalism and judgmentalism) and live in grace.  It was, he wrote, this kind of freedom Christ came to give (Galatians 5:1).

It is this larger Reality (i.e. the Kingdom of God) which calls for our allegiance, not the lesser realities (i.e. “the kingdoms of this world”).  It is when we are willing to live in this new creation that God then calls us to work in particular ways to realize the Kingdom here on earth.  One of those ways is the affirmation and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the Body of Christ through their full access to all the ministries of the Church.  I now see it was recognizing and receiving the larger Reality of the fresh wind of the Spirit blowing on the earth today that led me to being an ally with LGBTQ+ people, and in turn to the writing of ‘Holy Love,’ which we will begin to explore in the next post.  I wrote these opening contextual posts because I want you to see the forest before we look at one tree in it.

So…..

     (1) How is love a communal word for you?

     (2) How does exalting Christ call you to move beyond groupism and “group think”?


[1] I write about this further in chapter three of ‘Fresh Wind Blowing.’

[2] The range of Ilia’s ministry, including her writings and related videos, now expresses itself online at The Omega Center.. Richard Rohr has recently written similarly in the chapter “Love is the Meaning” in his book, ‘The Universal Christ’ (Convergent Books, 2019).. They both point to the views of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in their establishment of a Love-saturated cosmos.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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