From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a April 1999 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.
Introductory Note:

For anyone who is curious as to what the Renovaré community is all about, I’m not sure you’ll find a better introduction than this succinct and sturdy piece from Richard Foster. And for anyone who wonders what we mean by “training over trying” in our life with God, start here, with Richard’s exhortation to “train in righteousness” as apprentices to Jesus Christ.

Carolyn Arends
Director of Education, Renovaré

Ren­o­varé is not an orga­ni­za­tion. It is not an organ­ism. It is not even a move­ment, tra­di­tion­al­ly under­stood. Often peo­ple strug­gle with this. When I tell them, for exam­ple, that our orga­ni­za­tion­al chart is to do like Sam­son in the Hebrew Scrip­tures — to light the tails of the fox­es and let them go — many sim­ply don’t know what to make of it. Some, thank God, do get the idea and almost instant­ly become flam­ing wit­ness­es with­in the giv­en struc­tures of their lives. But many peo­ple, you see, are look­ing for an insti­tu­tion, a hier­ar­chy, a flow chart, a CEO, at the very least a sweat­shirt with the Ren­o­varé name embla­zoned upon it. But Ren­o­varé has none of these.

So, if Ren­o­varé is not an orga­ni­za­tion, what is it? It is a vision. It is an idea. It is a message.

And what is that mes­sage? Jesus cryp­ti­cal­ly — and pow­er­ful­ly — summed it up in his oft repeat­ed words, The king­dom of God is at hand; repent” (Mark 1:15 and many oth­er places). That is to say, Reeval­u­ate the whole way you are liv­ing in light of this great fact; in and through the per­son of Jesus the king­dom of God, with all of its atten­dant life and pow­ers, is now avail­able and acces­si­ble to every per­son who wants to step into it.”

Train­ing in Righteousness

Now, the instant we turn and step into the king­dom of God we are born from above, as Jesus said, and we enter into a vast array of expe­ri­ences in the Holy Spir­it. These expe­ri­ences are glo­ri­ous glimpses into heav­en­ly real­i­ties — com­fort and care, strength and hope, guid­ance and prophet­ic wit­ness, bap­tism in the Spir­it and fill­ings with the Spir­it, and more. But right here we face a gen­uine dan­ger: these expe­ri­ences can be so blessed and so won­der­ful that we are tempt­ed to sim­ply stay in the expe­ri­ences. But we were not brought into the king­dom of God for the sake of expe­ri­ences, but for the sake of train­ing in right­eous­ness, and we must nev­er try to replace train­ing with experiences.

So in our turn­ing into the king­dom of God we are also enrolling as dis­ci­ples, or appren­tices, to Jesus Christ. We will be in this appren­tice­ship all our lives for this is the most basic pos­ture in our train­ing in right­eous­ness. Jesus says, Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gen­tle and low­ly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my bur­den is light” (Matt. 11:28 – 29). We become yoked to Christ, allow­ing him to teach us how to live our lives as he would live our lives if he were us.

This train­ing in right­eous­ness most sure­ly involves spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines appro­pri­ate to our sit­u­a­tion and our need: soli­tude and silence, prayer and fast­ing, study and ser­vice, and so much more. These dis­ci­plines are the main way we offer our bod­ies up to God as a liv­ing sac­ri­fice. We are doing what we can do with our bod­ies, our minds, our hearts. God then takes this sim­ple offer­ing of our­selves and does with it what we can­not do, pro­duc­ing with­in us deeply ingrained habits of love and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The Blessed Community

Well, to begin with, the divine com­mu­ni­ty that is under God’s care and direc­tion is already in exis­tence and it is doing quite well — it always has and it always will. While it may inter­face with human struc­tures of one kind or anoth­er, this com­mu­ni­ty is nev­er depen­dent upon any human struc­tures. It is, in fact, a divine com­mu­ni­ty which involves a whole lot more of God’s cre­at­ed real­i­ty than human beings, and we are invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in it.

So, first, with the eyes of faith we join in the joy­ous com­mu­ni­ty of the angels and the archangels, the cheru­bim and the seraphim, the liv­ing crea­tures and the elders, and all the hosts of heav­en. Then too — and this also with the eyes of faith — we enter the great com­mu­nion of saints with those who have gone before and who cheer us on. And final­ly —and even this is done through the eyes of faith — we prayer­ful­ly watch for oth­ers who are liv­ing and walk­ing in the life and pow­ers of the king­dom of God. They, I might add, may well be found in the most unlike­ly of places. Then we sim­ply slide along­side of them and jour­ney togeth­er as part of this all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons, and God is at the heart of this com­mu­ni­ty as its prime sus­tain­er and most glo­ri­ous inhabitant.

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Per­spec­tives newslet­ter, April 101999.

Pho­to by Evie S. on Unsplash

Text First Published April 1999 · Last Featured on May 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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