Transformational thinking starts with suffering. Really.

Picking up N T Wright’s book, After You Believe, is a tremendous bonus as I work through these texts on “live dead” for my messages on Sunday.

Wright does not pull any punches. He examines the New Testament texts thoroughly. While a lot of his writing sounds a lot like the old “Kingdom Now” theology, it varies off wildly from that strain of thought because of where Kingdom power really starts: in suffering. It’s not all “glory” in our own terms, like Kingdom Now tended to propose, or some strains that I hear in other teaching from time to time these days.

NT Wright takes James. 1:2-4 and 2 Peter 1:5-8 works them this way:

Here we are clearly in the same world of thought. All these characteristics lead to one another, of course. The point is not to spend some years acquiring the first, and then move on to the second, and so on; they work together. And the point is their forward look: the aim of it all is to be fruitful in working for Jesus (2 Peter); to be “complete,” teleioi, ready for whatever contingency may arise, since your character has been formed to be prepared for anything and everything (James).

Character formation is the key, not just good feelings over someone getting healed. Suffering leads that way in New Testament teaching:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5)

Live Dead is necessary for any believer. America. North Africa. China. Live Dead may look “different” in particular contexts, but above all should be the idea of character transformation. Our lives are to be different from this world. It takes our minds being transformed. It takes US being willing to have our characters formed by Christ and allowing Kingdom habits to become second nature.

Walk in transformational thinking. Walk in new life. Really.

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