The Hasidim tell the story of the disciple who said to the teacher, “Teacher, I have gone completely through the Torah. What must I do now? And the teacher said, “Oh, my friend, the question is not, have you gone through the Torah. The question is, has the Torah gone through you?”
Yesterday the pastor of Edmonton’s First Baptist Church named for me the shift that is happening in my life. Pastor Tim Colborne described his journey as focused, for many years, on the liturgical life, and on the spiritual disciplines. But that over the past three years he has been drawn into a rediscovery of the gospel.
His experience parallels my own. For the past decade, my (Benedictine) spiritual journey has been focused on the the ancient disciplines. Even when practised inconsistently, as is my habit, and always imperfectly, which is my inclination, they have nevertheless been a well-spring. But during the past couple of years I have been nudged and redirected toward the gospels.
I’m hardly unique. I think the rediscovery of the gospel is inevitable in any “God-desiring” process.Â The disciplines are simply a good way of keeping desire alive.
The rediscovered gospel, or, “meeting Jesus again for the first time”, as Marcus Borg would say, are the experiences of seekers uneasy and unimpressed by formulaic Christian faith. Seekers who leave off being tourists and desire some kind of sustained existential immersion in the gospel, which they come to embrace as the crux of everything.
For me the rediscovered gospel is an earthy discovery. It’s a discovery of Jesus, not as propitiatory sacrifice, but as ultimate self-giver, who exposes and forgives my ways of self-security through violence. The gospel rediscovered moves me from tourist to resident. The gospel is no longer read by me. I am read by the gospel.Â