Over the months I’ve talked every once in a while about how 12 Step thinking and process echoes basics of true spirituality.
Even after the specific language of the Bible has been removed to make the Steps “accessible” to those who come with an aversion to the “religion” of their past, real wisdom remains.
Step 4 of the 12, for instance, calls for a repeated “fearless moral inventory” that together with the other 11 are designed to help us stop losing ourselves in momentary self-destructive behavior, and to be begin living an “examined life.”
Have been impressed with the way the Apostle Peter does something similar in his 2nd New Testament letter. After spending 3 years with Jesus, and after learning the hard way what “works” and what doesn’t, Peter says he is determined to keep reminding followers of Christ of “the basics” of Christ-centered spirituality even though they have heard him say it before (2Peter 1:12-13).
The fisherman-turned-disicple’s approach begins with a reminder that those who are in Christ have the Spiritual power and promises we need to overcome the misdirected and confused desires that keep tripping us up (1:1-4). What we need is to go back to what we know… over… and over… putting one foot in front of the other until we get “the feel of it.”
Knowing, however, that at any point in our lives we can “forget what we know” the Apostle shows us how to…
Take inventory (1:5-7)…
With the same faith that introduced us to Christ, Peter urges all due diligence to see the necessary relationships between Christ-centered,
Step 1. Faith to virtue— When we’ve entrusted ourselves to Christ, we have reason to want to be the kind of person he can help us to become.
Step 2. Virtue to knowledge— Wanting to be that kind of person requires us to want to know how he thinks (not as an omniscient God—but rather as Jesus thought when he was here among us– about his purpose in life, his relationship to the Father, and his relationship to others).
Step 3. Knowledge to self-control—Thinking the way Christ thought (i.e. in the face of temptation) is the secret to self-control.
Step 4. Self-control to endurance—Self-control (based on the kind of trust, desire, and thinking that produces it) over, and over, leads to enduring adverse conditions.
Step 5. Endurance to godliness—Giving God time to show himself faithful deepens our confidence in him— and our character as well…
Step 6. Godliness to family affection—The more we understand about how much the Father cares about us, the more we will be willing to take the risks of giving ourselves to one another.
Step 7. Family affection to real love— Only when we have learned to love our own family (with the kind of love that reflects the character of God) will we be able to show the same kind of love… even for an enemy.
I know many of us have worked through this in the past. But whenever I second-guess myself about the value of raising it again… I am reminded that this is no less than a Christ-based logic that caused one of his disciples to say,
“The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away. And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 1:8-11)
Am hoping that taking such inventory of ourselves again today won’t seem like a waste of any of our time…