Dynamics of Christian Spirituality - Lesson 11

Epilogue - Yearning For Better Days

In this lesson entitled "Yearning for Better Days," the speaker explores the ache of yearning, the reality of Christian life, and the hope of Christian spirituality. The lesson begins with a poignant scene at the old Jerusalem where Jews come to pray at the only surviving part of the last Jewish temple, which serves as a foundation on the west side of the Dome of the Rock. The emotions that Jews feel while waiting for the messianic protection are much the same as those that Christians feel while waiting for the Messiah's second coming. The speaker then discusses the reality of Christian life, which includes struggles with selfish natures, difficulties in figuring out God's will, tears, and struggles. Despite these challenges, the speaker emphasizes the hope of Christian spirituality, which is sustained by the power of the Spirit, the foundation of the Lord's Prayer, and the authenticity of Christian spirituality. The lesson concludes with the speaker acknowledging the uniqueness of every pilgrimage and offering advice to Christians through scriptural truth and the gathered wisdom of God's people through the centuries.

Glen Scorgie
Dynamics of Christian Spirituality
Lesson 11
Watching Now
Epilogue - Yearning For Better Days

Yearning for Better Days

I. The Ache of Yearning

A. Poignant Scene at the Old Jerusalem

B. The Similarity of Emotions between Jews and Christians

II. The Reality of Christian Life

A. Struggle with Selfish Natures and Wounding Others

B. Difficulty in Figuring Out God's Will

C. Tears and Struggles

III. The Hope of Christian Spirituality

A. Sustained by the Power of the Spirit

B. The Lord's Prayer as the Foundation of Christian Spirituality

C. The Authenticity of Christian Spirituality

IV. Conclusion

A. The Uniqueness of Every Pilgrimage

B. Evangelist's Advice to Christian

C. Scriptural Truth and Wisdom for Life

  • The modern way of life has left the human spirit unsatisfied. Though organized religion has been found deficient, real Spirit-uality remains God’s gracious provision for the soul-hunger of every age. We have introduced a framework for understanding such spirituality – one that highlights its three essential dynamics.

  • It is within the narrative of scripture that we continue to live and move. We are interested in the quality of spirituality that characterized the countless saints who have pursued God down through the centuries. Their legacy is not infallible, but it is instructive and potentially very helpful.

  • We were created for community, but our sin has produced alienation. By his Spirit, Christ is restoring our intimacy with God and others.

  • The first dynamic of Christian spirituality is relational— friendship with God and the experience of community.

  • We have become image-bearers who sin, and worse than that, we carry about in us a disposition to sin. The gospel is the good news that our sinful thoughts and actions can be forgiven through the atoning work of Christ. God’s Spirit, who now resides in us, is also fixing the polluted source of ours sins.

  • God’s saving plan is to change us into persons who are both holy and whole.

  • The Christian life involves connecting, becoming and doing. We discover meaning in life by aligning ourselves with God’s call to steward creation, evangelize the nations, and build his kingdom.

  • The ability to discern our personal vocation in life is important. What we do with our lives is an essential element of true spirituality.

  • Each of us should seek to live a Christ-centered, Spirit-filled life characterized all three dynamics of Christian spirituality: relational, transformational and vocational. We should conscientiously incorporate all three into our prayer lives as well.

  • Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning (Dallas Willard). We are as spiritual as we want to be (A. W. Tozer).

  • Gain insights into the ache of yearning and the reality of Christian life, and learn about the hope of Christian spirituality, which is sustained by the power of the Spirit, the foundation of the Lord's Prayer, and the authenticity of Christian spirituality.

If you are familiar with the author's A Little Guide to Christian Spirituality: Three Dimensions of Life with God, you will have a good idea of what is in this course.

The course is designed for those who are at the beginning stages of the spiritual journey. It talks about the dynamics of spiritual growth, how to grow to be more like Christ. (10:50)



Dr. Glen Scorgie
Dynamics of Christian Spirituality
Epilogue - Yearning For Better Days
Lesson Transcript

You have now completed the ten lectures in our course The Dynamics of Christian Spirituality. But I'd like to just add this brief concluding Epilog entitled Yearning for Better Days. And the keynote verse. Here is a simple three words of prayer from Revelation. Chapter 22. Verse 20. Come, Come, Lord Jesus. Old Jerusalem contains a wall that is sacred to the Jews. It's built of large stone blocks, and it serves as a kind of foundation on the west side of the ancient site, now occupied by a famous Muslim mosque. Dome of the Rock. This wall may be the only surviving part of the last Jewish temple, the one that Herod built before the time of Christ, and which has long since been demolished by a Roman army. Here, Jews come to pray with prayer shawls draped around their shoulders and sometimes little boxes of Torah, the Hebrew scriptures strapped to their foreheads. Some people write their little prayers on scraps of paper and fold them up and stuff them into the cracks in the mortar around these big stones. Those who are more conservative, among them where long beards and black broad brimmed hats. They rock back and forth as they pray, crying out to God to deliver. Finally, on his long standing promises of messianic protection, justice and national shalom. It's a poignant and moving scene. More than anything else. It's an atmosphere of yearning, of longing for things greatly desired, but still not having come to reality. The cry going up in many languages is essentially the same one. How long or Lord, how long? A friend and I stood at the wall one day, touching the cold stone with our fingers soaking up the ancient atmosphere and feeling the pulse of the Jewish faith.

[00:03:07] A stooped over old man with a messy white beard, stopped his praying and shuffled slowly over to us. He looked up at us through sad, watery eyes and in halting English, he inquired whether we were Jewish. We told him we were not. It was clear as he slowly moved off, that our answer had disappointed him. I wanted to call out after him. You're not the only ones who know the agony of having to wait. You know, you're not alone in yearning for better days that are already long overdue. What we Christians who have put our hope in Jesus, feel in our hearts, isn't so very different from what you are feeling. Yes, there's an incomplete dimension to our lives as well. Whether we wait for the Messiah's first coming like the Jews, or wait for the Messiah's second Coming. Like we Christians, the emotions that waiting creates are much the same. This is certainly true in the area of spirituality. The relational, transformational and vocational dynamics of the Christian life are real and they may be experienced in satisfying ways. Yet we set ourselves up for disappointment if we expect more than can be delivered in this groaning fallen world of ours. Yes, there are moments. There are moments when we catch direct glimpses of the father's heart and experience, the sweet joy of being in loving covenant with him. But there are other darker times when there is no feeling there at all. There's only silence in this sort of snake like whisper that everything we've believed is just made up and and we really are alone in the universe. Likewise, there are moments when the body of Christ feels like the best family ever. And there are other times when all its hurtful behaviors and his dysfunctional relationships push us to the point of almost becoming cynical.

[00:05:54] We will struggle with our selfish natures all our lives, wounding others and being wounded by them in ways that put friendships and family ties at risk. We will never get beyond temptation to a point where it will be safe to drop our guard. We will need to keep dipping into the reservoir of God's forgiveness and taking advantage of the gracious tolerance of others. We are all persons with disabilities. We are all limping our way back to God. And it's not always easy to figure out the will of God in the complex circumstances of our lives. Some of our hard work, for His sake, will show the signs that. We bungled some things and some of our hard work will end up looking rather futile and unsuccessful. People to whom we have given our lives don't always seem to appreciate how much we've invested in them. Sometimes our legacy may seem more like a sand castle, which we have struggled to build under the hot sun, only to be swept away by an incoming tide of circumstances we didn't anticipate. Or new leadership with a different vision than we had. The journey to the celestial city to heaven can be every bit as difficult as John Bunyan depicted in his famous Pilgrim's Progress. It will not always be filled with happy faces and fun times, an endless number of upbeat praise choruses. There will be tears to. And through it all, the ache of yearning we face into the wind as we journey through this fallen world. And there are plenty of struggles ahead. Nowhere does the Bible say it will be easy. We have only been assured that it is infinitely worthwhile. But we also journey in hope. And by hope we mean a confident and sustaining anticipation of a positive future.

[00:08:41] We have received sufficient assurances that we are on the right track, that we are going to keep pressing forward. It is true that for the time being we only know things partly. But someday we will see him face to face and will know him fully. Just as we are already fully known. That's what Paul says in First Corinthians 1312. The time is coming when we will slip beyond the bonds of earth and touch the face of God. Likewise, our progress toward holiness and wholeness is partial at best. But we look ahead to when we will finally be like him, and every tear will be wiped away. And we count on that promised day when we will sit down to a great banquet and celebrate the full and final victory of the reign of God. And at that banquet, the secret will be disclosed of how our labors for this cause were not in vain. As we move toward this destiny sustained by the power of the Spirit, we must keep praying as Jesus taught us to pray our Father in Heaven. For here, right up front is an acknowledgment in those words, our father of the intimate family connection that needs to set the emotional tone of everything that follows. Hallowed be Your name is essentially a prayer for our transformation, since God's name will be respected to the extent that our character and conduct as a people bearing his name bring him honor rather than dishonor. And finally, when we pray in the Lord's Prayer, your kingdom come. It's a reminder that God's great and overarching plan to bless the world is the thing of greatest importance, and that we discover our greatest joy and meaning by contributing to it. This is the foundation for everything else that follows living out the spirit of this classic Jesus style prayer.

[00:11:15] The Lord's Prayer is authentic Christian spirituality. Every pilgrimage is unique. Yours will not be the same as mine. And yet, in these perennial ways, all our journeys are the same. Perhaps as we conclude, you are wondering what to do next. The previous lecture offered some suggestions, but there's really no one size fits all plan. In John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress Evangelist meets Christian and Christian is wandering through the fields without any sense of direction. Evangelist's role is to point the bewildered pilgrim toward his true destination. But he does not provide a detailed map with all the right and left turns printed out in advance. It is Christian's journey, and he must choose his own steps. Do you see off there the shining light? Evangelist asks. I think I do, replied Christian, squinting at the horizon. Well, keep that light in your eye, says Evangelist, then urging him forward. He assures Christian that as he gets closer to the light, he will be told what to do next. And that's pretty much the way it works. We have young adult daughters in our family and they're moving out of the nest. Two are already gone. Only one still at home. And as they leave our home, we assure them of their love. We wave somewhat sadly, and we shout. Final words of parental encouragement and advice as they drive off. Sometimes I imagine Evangelist doing the same for Christian. In my mind's eye, I see him cupping his hands around his mouth to project his voice toward the figure disappearing over the hill. And the advice he offers. Christian echoes, scriptural truth, and the gathered wisdom of God's people through the centuries on the breeze, on the wind. I catch phrases like these. Never forget that culture is a vast conspiracy to distract you from the real point of living.

[00:14:05] All is lost if you simply go with the flow. Now decide what you really, I mean, really want most out of life. Because chances are that's what you'll end up getting. Remember that your father in heaven loves you and wills your happiness, delight in God and be welcoming to His spirit. Always be attentive, be faithful in relationships. Soak your mind in the truth and let it alter the settings of your soul. Dare to be honest, especially with yourself. Regularly claim God's forgiveness through Christ and then refuse to entertain guilt feelings. Cultivate a taste for the good. Find Godly mentors and sacred companions. Submit to God's will and do so without complaining. Be brave in your obedience and take risks. Stay resilient and firm in adversity. Live expectantly. See your life as the great gift it is and be thankful for it. And view all this as a brief prelude to a wondrous eternity. Sing even through your tears and made the Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.

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