The Three Stages of Christian Spirituality
There are Three Modes of God’s transforming work in our lives. They are Revival, Renewal, and Restoration. They seem to loosely correlated with the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with each taking a major part in mentoring us, including all three persons while working as one.
Trinity is the simplicity of all creation
Trinity is the simplicity of all things spiritually and physically. It’s the divine DNA in all creation. It’s the fingerprints of God in everything, from the atom to our very nature as human beings: Spirit, Soul, and Body. It is also the pattern for our spiritual growth.
Some images we could use to illustrate this are a three-story house, a triangle, or better yet three overlapping circles or spheres of energy we find in Celtic Christianity.
It’s hard for us to see God’s working when we’re in the middle of it. Especially in this first stage of revival. In revival, we generally see only what’s happening to us and not the big eternal picture.
Then as we grow spiritually, everything seems to fall apart and reorders us into the second stage of renewal.
Finally, there’s the third stage of restoration, where we become mystics, walking in the choreography of God. Restoration includes revival and renewal and transcends them into oneness.
On top of this, we can come into the awareness of each state, at any point in our lives. You may have come to Jesus as a mystic, or from within a Christian tradition you have already been baptized into. This image is dynamic, and not a linear step one, two, and three.
Though presented liner form, it is much, much more. It’s a dynamic way of understanding Christian spirituality from our three pure streams of the Christian Spiritual Tradition: Evangelical, Charismatic, and Liturgical.
Two terms that might need a little explanation before we begin: states and stages.
Everything is fluid in spirituality, though our normal dualistic mind tries to make it all solid and stable. Life is lived inflow, ie “walking in the Spirit.”
States are the spiritual modes of being we move into and out of, like “coming into the presence of God.”
So states are conscious levels of being and experiencing life.
Stages are when these ‘states’ become stabilized or integrated within our lives. A stage is dwelling and living out of a certain conscious level like “abiding in the Vine, dwelling in Christ, or “having the mind of Christ.”
In one metaphor, in states “We are a finger pointing at the moon, (or toward Christ) and, at another level stages, the moon is where we are “coming from” that place, (in Christ, walking in the Spirit, co-creating with our Creator. We are living out of the wholeness of God.
Finally, as this cross-denominational template, centered on our transformational growth in God rather than merely our belief in God. This is a theology of practice founded in Christ rather than on our belief systems and structures.
Since we usually see Christianity more clearly in its works, let’s use a trade model to break it open more fully. At every encounter with God, there is a consciousness shift within us. ie in Revival we intimately know Jesus at an eternal level of consciousness.
1. In learning any discipline we are first mentored to a Trade
In Evangelical terms, this trade begins with the Revival stage.
This is the state where we are mentored to and by Jesus.
This stage is steeped in the Responsibility of Man and form over substance, as we are building a life.
Institutionally, this is the realm of the evangelist, preacher, and apostle.
This is where we come alive in Jesus, the ‘just as I am’ stage. This is where we receive Jesus as Lord, and begin our journey of faith, however, it unfolds.
This is also where we’re taught to the test. We are mentored in the rules, “the pure milk of the word.”
In Revival, we are mentored to become good workers, good laborers, and good church people.
The downside is, that most of those who mentor us at this level are guilted to stay in it. It’s safe, predictable and it’s all they know. We are encouraged to live lives of perpetual revival, running from fire to fire, and endless Bible studies.
Scripture is hardwired in us at this level of consciousness but at a literal level.
The key here is this: We become spiritual laborers when we’ve been radically touched by the presence of God.
2. Mentored to the Craft.
In Charismatic terms, this is the Renewal stage.
This is where we are mentored by the Holy Spirit becoming experts in our gifts and calling.
In this state, we are steeped in the sovereignty of God and walking in the Spirit.
Institutionally speaking: Pastors, prophets, and apostles (bishops) are the best mentors in craftmanship, when they’re healthy and not merely professionals.
Here we become Disciples of Jesus in every sense of the word.
We become spiritual craftsmen moving in and out of the presence of God. We impart this hope through our gifts and calling.
In Meditative terms, this is a state experience as opposed to a stage experience. This means that we can move into and out of the presence of God. States of consciousness ( like being aware of God’s presence) however, are never permanent.
3. And finally we come to be mentored as Artists.
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is the most mystical, the most integrated, and grounded because it includes all three stages.
In our Trinitarian framework, In restoration, we are being mentored by God the Father.
In Liturgical terms, this is the Restoration stage…eternal restoration. God’s original intent.
This stage is steeped in being one with God. Our duality falls away in the presence of God, superseded by the holiness of God. Wholeness, unity, belonging, and acceptance are hallmarks of this stage.
We become spiritual artists when we abide in the presence of God. It’s as simple as that.
This is the dwelling stage, where we co-dwell with Christ.
We abide in Christ. We practice the presence of God. We become one who creates with their Creator. We carry the very atmosphere of God with us.
This is our focus at Contemplative Monk. Now you know our secret sauce.
However, these three stages of spiritual growth are not always progressive. But we do need every single one in our lives. So here’s an image.
They function more like a triangle rather than stepping-stones with the Artist at the top of the triangle. The left bottom is the Trade and the right bottom is the Craftsman. And we are the triangle. And grace is at the heart, the center that our heart always is.
This is a lot to take in all at once. I’ll work on simplifying this. I firmly believe that this is the genius of God’s design is in his simplicity.
True genius is taking something incredibly complex and making it simple. Any idiot can make things complex.
I’ve tied a lot of knots in my life (making things complicated). Now it’s my turn to untie a few.
Peace of Jesus!
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