How does God
act? How should I act?
the feature which distinguishes an individual or community. It is
a willingness to be shaped into a form that God can use. It is what
takes us from being a lump of clay and forms us into something with
purpose: a bowl, a mug, or a pitcher. We are individuals with distinct
gifts and personalities (we need bowls and pitchers as well as mugs!),
but we are molded by the same Artist for a common purpose.
The model for
Christian character is Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we are
given the stories, teaching, and example of the historical Jesus,
and the promise of new life through the risen Christ. Christians
bear the name, the story, and the character of Christ. Although
we need to have an intellectual understanding of Jesus' teaching,
Christianity is not fundamentally about what we know or believe,
it is about who we are. We cannot be like Jesus without
acting like Jesus. The Church of the Brethren names Jesus as "our
rule of faith and practice." We learn what Jesus taught and
how he acted by reading the Bible. We are shaped into his image
when we strive to follow that example in our lives. This cannot
happen in isolation. We need a community of Christians with whom
we can read and interpret the Bible, who can hold us accountable
for our actions, and who can give us encouragement. As Christians
we are not called to be individual believers, but the body of Christ.
Set aside 20-30
minutes for this journaling exercise. You will need a Bible, journal
or paper, and a pen or pencil.
1. Quiet yourself
and ask the Spirit to illuminate your reading and meditation.
2. Read the text slowly, several times. [Suggestions below]
3. Imagine you are part of the story. What is the setting? Who is
present? What is the mood? With which character do you identify?
4. Begin writing
by putting yourself into the story. When you come to a point where
Jesus addresses you, let yourself join in the action or enter into
the conversation. Pay attention to Jesus' appearance, posture, facial
expressions, and response to you. Notice how you respond to Jesus.
Answer Jesus' comments as though they are addressed to you.
What are you looking for? What do you want?
Me: (Write whatever response you would make to Jesus.)
the dialogue as long as you have something to say. Don't try to
force or analyze what you've said, just write until it feels like
the conversation is over. If you choose, share the story with a
friend you trust.
John 1:38-39 Mark 4:40 John 5:6 Matthew 17:7
of Bible study has always been foundational to Christian formation.
Learning God's story and purpose as revealed by the Holy Spirit
through scripture is one of the ways we are formed as individuals
and in community. You may have a long practice of either individual
devotional reading, group Bible study, or both.
of the fifth century developed a way of praying the scriptures,
known as lectio divina, literally "sacred reading."
In contrast to a Bible study which may look to the history, cultural
setting, or specific context of a biblical text, lectio divina
encourages silence, waiting, listening, and thoughtful response.
It is based on the simple, but revolutionary idea that a person
who meditates on God's word daily will be gradually changed: that
person will begin to take on the character of Christ, and will model
the behavior of Christ in his or her community and in the world.
can be practiced individually or in a group. The individual version
is shared here; it may be adapted for a group by reading the text
aloud, sharing the word or phrase from the mediation, and praying
for one another.
Consciously place yourself in God's presence, and invite the illumination
of the Spirit. You may want to light a candle or listen to meditative
Read through a short passage of scripture in a slow, thoughtful
way. It is best to read the text out loud slowly-perhaps several
Read the text until you come to a word, phrase or sentence which
attracts you or touches your heart. Stop and re-read the phrase,
and savor its goodness or sweetness.
If you wish, write down the words or phrases in a journal. You may
find yourself drawn to actions or imagery. Let your thoughts and
imagination be part of this meditation.
Respond to God in prayer. This can be silent, spoken, or written.
Simply express what is in your heart, whether it is thanksgiving,
confession, or intercession for yourself or others.
Rest in God's presence. Wait silently. Thank God for being with
you and loving you.
Top of page