Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Message from Jeff Blake, High School Teacher

March 7, 1965, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama some six hundred civil rights activists marched in a non-violent protest for voting rights, but were met by the televised brutality of state police with billy clubs, tear gas, and bull whips. Martin Luther King Jr.’s remarks following 1965’s “Bloody Sunday” drive the student of spiritual formation toward the intersect of scripture and transformation. King asserted:

. . . there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they're worth dying for . . . A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true. So we're going to stand up amid horses. We're going to stand up . . . amid the billy-clubs. . . amid police dogs, if they have them. We're going to stand up amid tear gas! (Great American Speeches,)

King’s words are laden with submission laid upon biblical wisdom. His words embody an embrace of scripture. His words are part of the ongoing story of scripture. Henri Nouwen (who turned from prestige of Princeton and Harvard to serve the mentally handicapped), believed the essence of spiritual formation is the ability to respond to God, know God in thought and deed directly. For King and Nouwen, the scriptures assert a life characterized by so much more than a beating heart and air filled lungs. They speak of lives found in the Spirit, the center core of mind, will, and a soul living in submission to righteousness, justice, and truth. The intersection of spirituality, submission, and scripture is life. As Eugene Peterson teaches, King and Nouwen correctly found themselves in the ongoing story of scripture.

Three thousand years before King and Nouwen, the authors of Proverbs proclaimed such truths. One author of Proverbs writes, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.”(Proverbs 14:12, NRSV) Scripture, such as Proverbs are a means to steer the spiritually formative from self deceptive “right” ways that lead to death. Scripture exists, in part, to guide the spiritually formative from ways of death toward God’s (life filled) wisdom and direction.

In sum, the Proverbs are yet another way God is telling me, “I want to be with you and guide you in the most intimate corners of life: to give life (yet again) abundantly.

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