I recently read and loved Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It is a balm, a kick, a nudge, a lesson, counsel, conversation, realistic, hopeful, and profoundly biblical and beautiful. As he walks through the Psalms of ascent the reader is drawn into worship and closer to God. Here is the first selection of the best quotes. You can read part 2 HERE.
1. The world is no friend to grace.
2. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness. Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.
3. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.
4. Christian consciousness begins in the painful realization that what we assumed was the truth is in fact a lie.
5. Rescue me from the one who tells me of life and omits Christ, who is wise in the ways of the world and ignores the movement of the Spirit.
6. The moment the word God is uttered, the world’s towering falsehood is exposed—we see the truth. The truth about me is that God made and loves me. The truth about those sitting beside me is that God made and loves them, and each one is therefore my neighbor. The truth about the world is that God rules and provides for it. The truth about what is wrong with the world is that I and the neighbor sitting beside me have sinned to refusing to let God be for us, over us, and in us. The truth about what is at the center of our lives and of our history is that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for our sins and raised from the tomb for our salvation and that we can participate in new life as we believe in him, accept his mercy, respond to his love, attend to his commands.
7. Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision . . . Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.
8. Any hurt is worth it that puts us on the path of peace, setting us free for the pursuit, in Christ, of eternal life.
10. For many, the first great surprise of the Christian life is in the form of the troubles we meet.
11. No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of life than the Bible. At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties.
12. Faith is not a precarious affair of chance escape from satanic assaults. It is the solid, massive, secure experience of God, who keeps evil from getting inside us, who guards our life, who guards us when we leave and when we return, who guards us now, who guards us always.
13. Much of what we commonly describe as Christian behavior is not volitional at all—it is enforced. But worship is not forced. Everyone who worships does so because he or she wants to.
14. Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith . . . We live in what one writer s has called the “age of sensation. We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting.
15. Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God—it whets our appetite. Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship—it deepens. It overflows the hour and permeates the week.
16. We would very soon become contemptuous of a god whom we could figure out like a puzzle or learn to use like a tool.
17. The basic conviction of a Christian is that God intends good for us and that he will get his way in us. He does not treat us according to our deserts, but according to his plan.
18. Every relationship that excludes God becomes oppressive.
19. Freedom is the freedom to live as persons in love for the sake of God and neighbor, not a license to grab and push. It is the opportunity to live at our best, “little less than God,” not as unruly beasts.
20. God is for us. God is our help.
21. God doesn’t need me to defend him. He doesn’t need me for a press secretary . . .The proper work of a Christian is witness, not apology.
22. The reason many of us do not ardently believe in the gospel is that we have never given it a rigorous testing, thrown our hard questions at it, faced it with our most prickly doubts.
23. The psalms are great poetry and have lasted not because they appeal to our fantasies and our wishes but because they are affirmed in the intensities of honest and hazardous living.
24. We speak our words of praise in a world that is hellish; we sing our songs of victory in a world where things get messy; we live our joy among people who neither understand nor encourage us. But the content of our lives is God, not humanity.
25. Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not what I feel about him or myself or my neighbors.
26. Nothing counter to God’s justice has any eternity to it.