The first section in the conclusion to Making the Best of It is called “The Shape of our Lives.” John Stackhouse looks at this in terms of three issues.
I’m simply going to hit some points that I found interesting.
Stackhouse says our lives should reflect God’s mission and Christ’s call but we know that because there is evil within us we fail to live up to that purpose. We need to shed those things that impede us. Also, as we make decisions we need to be asking:
Christian maturity is essential to resisting evil in the world and discerning what will bring shalom. Stackhouse points to one study that concluded:
Yet Christian education is one of the most deplorable(IMO) aspects of church life. That said, Stackhouse acknowledges that Christian education alone is not enough. The “holy habits of the normal Christian life, such as prayer, worship, charity, and the like” must be present.
I liked his final paragraph in this section:
The challenge for the above is that the context keeps changing. First, we move through various stages of the life-cycle or go through seasons of life. Each season has its limitations and opportunities. Second, our cultural context is always changing. Realism dictates that we must shift our posture and our actions relative to the context. Our actions in one culture may not be the correct ones in another, and within the same culture in different eras our responses may vary. Shifts in context are always some combination of God’s providence and human evil. Thus, the questions asked in the above section well be shaped by our changing context … but our mission of resisting evil and reshaping the world toward shalom is constant.
Stackhouse writes, “The Book of Acts is full of interruptions.” So are our lives. Stackhouse looks at stories in Acts and observes that they are filled with both normal and supra-normal deviations that are hard to separate. Not every interruption is a blessing but God often does call us to unexpected contingencies.
I really liked this passage:
Realism thus requires a constant renegotiation of changing contexts and contingencies. We both maintain the perpetual elements of any proper Christian living and adapt them to the features of this particular occasion. Such a challenge means that it is not always clear that we are, in fact, making the right choice. Ambiguity cannot be avoided here, either. … What do we do? We make the best of it – in concert with fellow Christians, in cooperation with our other neighbors, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in discipleship to Jesus Christ, to the glory of God. (320-321)