The Six Streams

A Balanced Vision

Noth­ing less than life in the steps of Christ is ade­quate to the human soul or the needs of our world.
—Dal­las Willard

Jesus gave us a com­plete pic­ture of God, and demon­strat­ed how we can expe­ri­ence vital­i­ty and full­ness in our life with God (Col. 2:9, Jn. 10:10). The his­tor­i­cal Church (Chris­tians), despite its divi­sions and dif­fer­ences, has upheld the core char­ac­ter­is­tics of Christ’s life through what we now call traditions.

Tak­en togeth­er, these tra­di­tions help us envi­sion a bal­anced spir­i­tu­al life. They serve as a guide to help us take on the life of Jesus – to become like Jesus our­selves – and as a result to be trans­formed from the inside out.

Prayer-Filled Life: Our heart’s steady atten­tion on God

The Con­tem­pla­tive Tra­di­tion con­tin­u­al­ly draws us into love for God, remind­ing us that the Chris­t­ian life is less like a rule book and more like falling in love. It stress­es the val­ue of silence, soli­tude, and prayer as ways we engage with God’s pres­ence, whether we take a silent walk in the ear­ly morn­ing, ride the bus to work, wash dish­es while the kids nap, or even take a nap our­selves. As Tere­sa of Avi­la described, con­tem­pla­tion is an inti­mate shar­ing between friends,” in the time or man­ner that works best for you and God.

Put sim­ply, the con­tem­pla­tive life is the steady gaze of the soul upon the God who loves us.
—Richard Fos­ter, Streams of Liv­ing Water
(Addi­tion­al quo­ta­tions on this page from same source.)

Vir­tu­ous Life: Respond­ing with integrity

The Holi­ness Tra­di­tion empha­sizes the re-for­ma­tion of our hearts so that we are able to respond appro­pri­ate­ly to the chal­lenges of life. The word holi­ness” has some neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions today, but the orig­i­nal Greek mean­ing of the word virtue is sim­ply to func­tion well.” Vir­tu­ous Life is not about rules or judge­ment, per­fec­tion­ism, or some kind of mer­it gained by good deeds. It encour­ages us to the ulti­mate goal: not to get us into heav­en, but to get heav­en into us.” It is atten­tive­ness to the source of our actions, to the con­di­tion and motives of the heart, and tak­ing on new pat­terns of life that flow nat­u­ral­ly from within.

We see Jesus con­sis­tent­ly doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. We see in him such deeply ingrained holy habits” that he is always reponse-able,” always able to respond appro­pri­ate­ly. This is puri­ty of heart. This is the vir­tu­ous life.

Spir­it-Empow­ered Life: Fuel­ing our lives from the pres­ence and pow­er of God

The Charis­mat­ic Tra­di­tion focus­es on the pow­er of God’s Spir­it mov­ing in and through us. Just as a car requires fuel to run, and our bod­ies require food for sur­vival, so our souls rely upon the Spir­it of God for spir­i­tu­al ener­gy. Through the Spir­it, we are able to do more than we could on our own steam, and these abil­i­ties not only remind us of God’s pres­ence, but equip us to build up our com­mu­ni­ties in love.

Frankly, there are no non­charis­mat­ic Chris­tians’ … the Chris­t­ian life is by def­i­n­i­tion a life in and through the Spirit.

Com­pas­sion­ate Life: Extend­ing com­pas­sion in every sphere of life

The Social Jus­tice Tra­di­tion express­es the themes of jus­tice, com­pas­sion, and peace. It empha­sizes wis­dom and lov­ingkind­ness to bring rela­tion­ships into har­mo­ny, uni­ty, and bal­ance, even with­in our rela­tion­ship to nature. Com­pas­sion­ate Life takes place in all are­nas of life, from per­son­al to social to glob­al. As with the oth­er tra­di­tions, the actions we take are not the end goal. True com­pas­sion is moti­vat­ed by a gen­uine heart, is empow­ered by the love of God, and embraces the pos­si­bil­i­ty of pos­i­tive change.

Love of God makes love of neigh­bor possible.

Word-Cen­tered Life: Liv­ing the life-giv­ing message

The Evan­gel­i­cal Tra­di­tion encom­pass­es much more than sim­ply con­vert­ing peo­ple. The evan­gel – the good news” – is God’s great mes­sage to human­i­ty: that all can be redeemed and restored to its intend­ed design. This is the mes­sage embod­ied in Jesus him­self, root­ed in the word of God, and ulti­mate­ly expressed through the lives of those who fol­low Christ. It is a liv­ing tale of grace spo­ken in and through word and action.

This faith stream address­es the cry­ing need for peo­ple to see the good news lived and hear the good news proclaimed.

Sacra­men­tal Life: Encoun­ter­ing the invis­i­ble God in the vis­i­ble world

The Incar­na­tion­al Tra­di­tion focus­es on the rela­tion­ship between the invis­i­ble spir­it and phys­i­cal real­i­ty, help­ing us to see God’s divine pres­ence in the mate­r­i­al world in which we live. God man­i­fests him­self in his cre­ation, even in the midst of mun­dane activ­i­ties, when­ev­er and wher­ev­er we acknowl­edge God.

Far from being evil, the phys­i­cal is meant to be inhab­it­ed by the spiritual.

Next: Spiritual Disciplines

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