Posted by: Philip Rushton | June 30, 2014

The Journey Toward New Creation: Spirituality

“We are trying to fix something without first being fixed ourselves.” John Perkins

I often deal with a bit of disorientation upon returning from an inspirational conference. It was great to hear all kinds of great ideas and insights at Duke’s Summer Institute, but it is quite another thing to try and figure out how to implement these ideas in real life. It feels a bit daunting to know how or where to start.

However, our final talk by John Perkins helped prepare me for the trip home. He reminded us that before we can attend to the work of reconciliation in a broken world we need to come to terms with our own brokenness. If we have any hope of being an agent of transformation in the world we must first be transformed ourselves. The starting point for reconciliation, Perkins says, is discipleship.

Perkins message reminded me why the work of the church is important. There were times throughout the week when I wondered if I could make more of an impact in our world in a different line of work. I met people who were active in N.G.O.’s, social work, and higher education. Some of the things people said they were involved in seemed more pragmatic and significant than parish ministry.

Yet, Perkins, who has devoted his life to hands on community development, reminded us that we need to begin with discipleship. People were asking him for his key insights into how we might transform our communities, and he surprised the group by saying that we need to start by confessing our sin and learning how to read the bible! He emphasized this point because he believes that our ability to impact the world requires us to draw from a deeper well of spirituality. Without discipleship we cannot embody God’s love to our hurting world. Without discipleship we fail to address the ways we contribute to the problems in our world. Without discipleship we do not have a foundation or vision for why we should actually care.

In John 15, Jesus says, “apart from me you can do nothing.” He likens us to a branch that cannot bear fruit unless it is attached to the vine. Our primary role in bearing good fruit, then, is for us to remain in God’s love. This means that the starting point toward making an impact in our world is to attend to our own spiritual health.

For the past four weeks I have been reflecting on a number of major themes of the Christian life – new creation, vision, lament, reconciliation, and hope. These big ideas are inspiring but they can also be disorienting.

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son

They are disorienting because the things God desires to do in our world confront the status quo that we are very comfortable with. Therefore, this disorientation is often important. God sometimes stirs within us a holy restlessness that motivates us to pursue healthy change.

However, it is not a crippling disorientation that leaves us hopeless and without direction. For, the same God that gives us a vision of new creation also gives us a vessel for traversing away from the old. God himself promises to be with us on the journey and to shape and equip us to be a different kind of people. Perhaps, then, the starting point for this journey toward new creation isn’t very big or flashy. Perhaps it begins with the simple act of getting on our knees and saying, like the prodigal son, “father I have sinned against heaven and against you.”


  1. I really like how you’ve connected your messages with different views of the sculpture. Today’s message really hit home with me. Very timely. Thanks.

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