Abstract

Practical theology, like worn shoes, carries the memories of our daily lives, giving opportunities for the movement of God's word to resonate from the heart (Matt 18:35). In this article, I want to suggest that the markings we make on the road to 'the paradise of God' (Rev 2:7) reflect opportunities and capacities for growth to become children of God. This entails a difficult or even a vexing adventure of faith. For 'the children of your Father in heaven' are challenged to find meaning and truth through encounters and memories like loving 'your enemies' or praying 'for those who persecute you' (Matt 5:44).

So where the heart matures into becoming curious about God who makes the 'sun rise on the evil and on the good' (Matt 5:45), practical theology nurtures a place for 'joy and gladness' (Ps 45:15) even amongst life's disappointments and catastrophes. In effect, practical theology moves forward to invite a reflection upon discerning God's movement into our personal stories so that our loving and knowing from the heart may reveal the joy and gladness of becoming children of God 'today'.

A compelling trait of the children of God is knowing what it means to abide in God. They are drawn 'to walk just as he walked' (1 Jn 2:6), as in the Garden of the Lord (Gen 3:8). Such walking with God may even take the path of mourning and weeping like David on the way to the Mount of Olives (2 Sam 15:30) or grieving and praying like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-44). The children of God possess the courage and confidence to traverse the path to God, to become holy people of God, because they know the Father (1 Jn 2:14) who is the place of joy and gladness. Abiding in God, the children of God discover forgiveness through 'Jesus Christ the righteous' (1 Jn 2:2), and await in hope to enter the Father's Kingdom through being born of the Spirit (Jn 3:5). Essentially, the children of God reveal that this hope for the glory of the Kingdom of God (1 Thess 2:12) is deeply personal. For such intimacy of hope can be born out of transformative and dramatic events like the collision between loving and knowing.

Keywords

practical theology, spiritual growth, children of God

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

http://compassreview.org/spring16/8.pdf

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