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Porterbrook | Gospel Living Units 7-9

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Well...you ought to be finishing up the Gospel Living module as we head towards our next seminar on March 28th/29th. There's been some really challenging and inspiring stuff in these modules. I know particularly unit 6 has created a lot of great conversation amongst some of you all that I've talked with. Thanks for everyone who's posted in the comments of the blog here so far, keep it up!

Module 7 examines how friendship is a significant party of gospel living. I am still chewing on the C.S. Lewis quote on p. 41: "Friendship is a sort of seccession, even a rebellion." Thank God for friends that walk along side us and press us out of our selfish, self-centered ways. 

Module 8 discusses all the relationships worldwide and the connections that are ours in Christ, using the story of the Jerusalem collection as a prime example from the early church. 

Module 9 challenges us to take a look at consumerism and how it has most likely infected us, innoculating us against God's truth, breeding discontentment and hindering us from gospel living. 

So...in the comment section below, respond to the following:

- How does the gospel breed true contentment, i.e. "contentment is found not by getting more, but by wanting less"?

- How have you seen these units catalyzing gospel living/godly character in your life? 

- And of course, if there's a particular quote/passage/concept that is particularly meaningful or challenging to you, you can post that as well. 

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I was particularly struck by the block quote of Jim Elliot on p. 63, first by the intense joy he expresses as he considers creation ("It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart...what more could a man ask?"), and then by his desire for Christ receive His due worship from it and all its inhabitants ("Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven, take your crown, subdue your kingdom, enthrall your creatures.").

I am convicted of my relative lack of affection for Christ when held in comparison to this man.

Just reflecting on Unit 7 and having friends that will take our godliness seriously. We need people in our lives to encourage and love us but also that will extend their love to rebuke and challenge us.
If friendship is at the very core of who we are as people made in God's image then it challenges me to be more outward focused. It spurs me on to experience God as I reach out to others and become involved with them as they walk through life. It challenges me to be praying for my friendships and taking them seriously.

Finding contentment is a particular struggle of mine, and Chesterton's insight and wit once again do not disappoint:

"There are two ways to get enough: one is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."

The gospel turns that which is considered "normal" in the eyes of the world on its head; Jesus proclaims that the poor are blessed, an apparent contradiction to the person who equates blessing with material wealth.

Finding joy and satisfaction in God is difficult to the person whose heart has been corrupted by consumerism; the primary strategy of advertising is to convince you that you're missing out on something. It's the same lie that Satan tricked Adam and Eve with in the Garden--that God is not all good, that's he's withholding something we deserve, and that all we need to do to find satisfaction is to reach up and take a bite of fruit.

The Gospel tells us that God is King and that he cares for his people. It tells us that we needn't try to find acceptance or identity in "stuff," but in our Master. It assures us that the poor in spirit will be vindicated. It allows us to be free from our bondage to discontent.

I was particularly convicted when the unit pointed out that everything we buy for ourselves means that we have decided against using that money to help the poor or further the gospel. It's not that spending some money on ourselves is necessarily bad, but I found the unit to be most helpful in evaluating my default behavior when considering a new purchase-- it's fairly rare that I am truly thinking of others first.

All this is to say that I need to continually repent and find satisfaction in Jesus. I ought to be less concerned about whether the proverbial glass is half full or half empty and simply get a smaller glass.

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