Then there's this WPS button thing on my router. It's one of the techie abbreviations writers drop into the install pages to confound and mystify amateurs like me. I almost ran over my new printer with the car because of this thing. It activates the WiFi Protection Setup of wireless contraptions. When it isn't operating, the whole thing is a frustrating mess. There's no connection. It won't perform. Stale gadgets. They may be the anti-Christ.
OK, wireless references are an over-worked cliche of the spiritual life, maybe another stale part of our spiritual practices. Still, there's a lesson in it and perhaps a moral and ethical hook about our personal relationship with him. It's certainly a dilemma of the times, the questions about an enemic church, comic book faith, and the growing paganism around us. Yes, certainly God is in control of all things and superintends the movements of his people in this vast world. There's always the tension between his moral will, or desire for his people, and his sovereign will, what is going to happen no matter what. Somewhere in the balance he entrusted this whole thing to his church. He lives in us, guides our steps, empowers the mission, and works in all things. At the same time, there's spiritual impotency, So, what's the deal.
It's isn't quamtum mechanics, this ideal of freshness. He has revealed it to us in Scripture. It's his connection to us, he is sovereign over it, but in some way has given us the WPS button so that the connection can be constant. Some argue that we have so violated the covenant that he has removed his guding hand, as in the inter-testamental period or at the time of the judges. Others say, however, that our current malaise, what I'm calling spiritual staleness, is the result of people having lost theirurgency and sense of priority. The connection is eclipsed by so many other interests. This is, of course, the task of spiritual leaders, to preach and teach his word with passion and power, and to challenge his people to seek first his Kingdom.
Yes, there is prayer, Bible study, misson, service, fellowship, stewardship, discipleship, worship, confession, relationship building, forgiveness, and a long list of spiritual disciplines to insure that connection. There's plenty to do. And, that's a problem too, because the over-doing of them, or using them as our spiritual checklist poses the dangers of staleness all over again. What we do is all noble and worthy and biblically correct. Yet, there's the thing about motives, repetition, and becoming robots of the spiritual mechanics. We're typicaly busy-bodies, caught up in the works related elements of faith that we've grown stale in them. We do plenty.
Freshness is about being. So, let's hold hands, hum a few bars of Kum Ba Yah and be something spiritual for a while. You know that's not what I mean. No, I'm talkign about becoming the imitation of Christ, following his steps, allowing him to develop his character in us. It's the theme of what Peter wrote in his second letter. Catch this---
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-8).
Evidently fresh faith is about virtue, knowledge. self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These are the internal faith supplements that engineer freshness in our lives. And, I'll confess, in thirty five years of preaching I didn't address them as I should have. Most of the time I was intent on the outer mission of God's people to the exclusion of dealing with those internal traits that set us up for a consistent communion with him. The outcome of having these traits is that is that they prevent us from being inefective or unfruitful, you know, stale. They are the components of freshness.
The WPS button enables my wireless printer to communicate with my MAC. If that little green light isn't on the whole operation becomes stale. The virtues Peter mentions serve that same purpose in my spiritual life, to help me stay connected to the one who has granted me all I need for life and godliness. They make me effective and fruitful. Fresh.