The Incarnational Stream & Higher Education: Holistic Spirituality

Introduction

Thomas B. Grosh IV (left) and Dwight Schwartz (right) at the 2011 CMDA Connections Conference. Dwight serves as the Mid-Atlantic Area Director for InterVarsity’s Graduate & Faculty Ministry. Note: The text reads “He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2

Last week I had the privilege of participating in the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA)1 Connections Conference. The support, conversations, content, networking, and resources which I took away from CMDA, Bristol, TN, encouraged me in and better equipped me to participate in the extension of the Kingdom of God across the various structures at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine/Medical Center [chaplains, counselors, faculty, nurses, patients (including the care of our own family), physicians, researchers, students (medical, nursing, graduate), support staff, therapists . . .] through the Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA.

Not surprisingly the worship, renewal of vision/passion for the Kingdom of God, exploration of ethical decision making, call for discipleship/evangelism/missions, and honest conversations about relationships/vocation/marriage speak into much more than health care. So as we once again dig into making “present and visible the realm of the invisible Spirit” and experiencing “God as truly manifest and notoriously active in daily life” (Foster, 272), I will draw from Spiritual Formation in Ministry and Randy Gilmour’s, Pastor of Hamilton Hills Baptist Church, CMDA Connections Conference presentations on the Kingdom of God.

A Compartmentalized vs. A Christ-centered Life

 

Compartmentalized vs. Christ Centered Life (Boa, 222)

When you review your life and vocation, do you find “A Compartmentalized Life” or “A Centered Life?” (Boa, 222)  We will all fall short (please take a moment to join me in confession), but we are called as part of the Body of Christ to continually return to life In Christ Alone. As we do such, even the most mundane components of daily life become expressions of “An Integrated Life” (Boa, 223), making “present and visible the realm of the invisible Spirit” (Foster, 272).

An Integrated Life (Boa, 223)

Randy Gilmour, Pastor of Hamilton Hills Baptist Church, shared at the CMDA Connections Conference:

These are the terms that describe how we represent the life of God’s Kingdom to the brokenness we encounter in this world:

Ambassadors – 2 Corinthians 5:20
Witnesses – Acts 1:8
Foundations2 Corinthians 12:9b

Knowing that your work fits into God’s original design for people to reflect his rule, the question is, are you going to use your profession to confront brokenness and to collaborate with the power of our exalted Lord? Confronting brokenness will always involve much more than simply cursing it. Confronting brokenness, at a minimum, involves creating ministry plans and structures, and then communicating with God, with others, and even with the victims themselves, bringing the resurrection life of God’s Kingdom to bear as a Kingdom ambassador, witness, and foundation.

Applications from Randy Gilmour’s Powerpoint Slides.

Prayerfully consider how these points speak to your life, campus, discipline and stage of vocation.  If you have any stories to share which exemplify these Kingdom of God points from your campus, discipline, and/or vocational journey, please share them to the glory of God and the encouragement of the people of God.

  • Begin to think in terms of God’s Kingdom and to recognize examples of brokenness.
  • Take time to worship God daily as the King over all His creation.
  • Respond to God as King with faith and trust.
  • Turn to Him for peace to cope, and for energy and strength to serve.
  • Understand the tragedy of collaborating with death (even a little) vs. the triumph of collaborating with the resurrection life of the Kingdom.
  • Learn to recognize real world examples of both and choose life.
  • Return to God’s design for your profession.
  • Integrate your “resurrection” life into your “professional” life.
  • Dedicate your “professional” life to God’s original design for life under His rule.
  • Focus on reflecting, reconciling, redeeming, and restoring.
  • Be on the lookout for brokenness.
  • Focus on reflecting, reconciling, redeeming, and restoring wherever you are.
  • Adopt Philippians 3:10a as your personal mission statement — “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection…”
  • Begin communicating about brokenness and creating ministry to address it.

The Incarnational Stream & Higher Education Series

To be continued through an on-line book study of Dennis Hollinger’s (President, Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action (InterVarsity Press, 2005). For the on-line book study click here.

Notes

1CMDA exists to glorify God — by motivating, educating and equipping Christian doctors and students:

  • to serve with professional excellence as witnesses of Christ’s love and compassion
  • by advancing biblical principles of healthcare within the Church and to our culture.

2 My developing rubric for the Incarnational Stream/Tradition follows Dennis Hollinger’s (President, Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action (InterVarsity Press, 2005).  If you haven’t already, I’d recommend you borrow/purchase a copy of Head, Heart & Hands for our on-line discussion which begins next week.

Sources Consulted

Boa, Kenneth. 2001. Conformed to his image: Biblical and practical approaches to spiritual formation. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Foster, Richard J. 1998. Streams of living water: Celebrating the great traditions of the Christian faith. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco.

Hollinger, Dennis. 2005. Head, heart & hands: Bringing together Christian thought, passion and action. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Pastor Randy’s blog. “Ambassadors, witnesses, and foundations,” http://www.hamiltonhills.org/Pastor_Randy%27s_Blog.ihtml?id=324637#h_1560 (Accessed 6/2/2011). Note: No longer available (5/23/2013).

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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