Listening to Kevin Vanhoozer recently online (see March 15-16, 2007) reminded me of the value of spontaneity and order. Vanhoozer likens the world and Christian life to a drama lived out. The analogy he draws is compelling, and this book is helpful in seeing his full work on that.
We need to be students of the word of God, of our life in God, of Jesus himself by the Spirit. This involves work over time, though any work at all has value, but we must keep at it. This involves prayer and being in the word, as well as reading good books like the one mentioned above (though what might strike one's fancy may not strike another's; find good books by people of God one might say).
From this can come a needed spontaneity which is a natural response or act coming from what is stored up in one's heart. In other words sponataneity arises from order.
Back to Vanhoozer: he describes it as in a drama. To do the best acting the actors must know their parts well; they must know the character they are acting out as well as possible. So that they learn to think like them, speak and act like them, be like them. And from that learning they must have the freedom to act it out according to the feel they have for it. It must become natural for them, in order for it to be good acting.
Of course the protest will come that mere acting is hypocritical if the heart is not really in it. And Vanhoozer covers that protest well in his second lecture (see first link above). For us in Jesus, as we study or better put, become apprentices of the way, the truth and the life, our hearts are changed. It's an ongoing process, but through it we should more and more reflect in our hearts and lives the one we are seeking to follow, Jesus.
Yesterday in our "devotions" it was brought up that for a number of us, hating someone seems hardly an issue anymore as it was when we were younger and before we came to know the Lord. This just goes to show that a heart change has been going on for us who are in Jesus. We receive a new heart at conversion, and through that we gradually unlearn that which is not in line with it and learn that which is. This is more than the mind; it also involves the whole person. So that who we are is different now than it was times before.
And this "drama" is lived out together in mission to and for the world (as my good friend, John Frye reminded me in a comment the other day). It's not an individual thing. Dramas involve a plot with leading and supporting roles. Everything must work together well for it to come off as a good play. The same holds true for us in the Christian life and experience. We must keep working at this: what we are and our role is in Jesus, together with others: who they are and their role in Jesus, and learn to do this for the benefit of each other and to help us in God's mission to us for the world.
What thoughts might you have, or ways of helping us think through this?