I have been a long-time reader of The Internet Monk, a blog continuing the legacy of Michael Spencer. One of the phrases that comes up a lot over there is a “Jesus-shaped spirituality” — you know, making your life look like Jesus. Again, it’s one of those simple concepts that seems so hard for us to put into practice in the real world.
But we have a world that has been looking at church folk and our churches and not seeing much Jesus. I have a “Jesus-shaped spirituality” in fits and starts. I don’t do a very good job. But, still, I find folks who see my acceptance of them, my ability to carry on a conversation outside of church-talk, and my interest in their lives in the here and now surprising to them. They have a perception of Christians that is pretty negative. And so it’s important to live that Jesus-shaped life.
Jay Matthew Barnes talks about this as well. The following is from a post called “The Watching World.”
People are watching folks who follow Jesus. They see what we are doing. They’re watching how we live. They notice us.
Why does this simple fact — that the world is watching — matter?
Well, it matters because our words communicate some but our lives speak much more. ….
But Jesus is where we can look to see that living in an other-centered can change perceptions. And it is in following Jesus…with the help of a missional community…that we can discern how to live that Jesus-shaped life now. Here’s how Barnes puts it:
How do we live Jesus’ human life? Well, we need to find out how Jesus lived by reading about his life in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Then we need to gather some friends around us who also want to live Jesus’ life in their lives and start doing the things we see Jesus doing. We need to pray for each other, celebrate together, hold each other accountable, and encourage one another.
I long for this. And yet I find it so difficult to grasp.