Ever since I heard that Eugene Peterson had been put in hospice I have been pondering his significance to the VantagePoint3 community and mission. Grateful for his voice. He is certainly in the top 2-3 most significant teachers who have influenced the direction, character, and shape of this deepening and developing people ministry of VP3.
Since Peterson’s passing on Monday morning, four particular quotes have stood out to me and I thought it might be fitting to offer these as reminders to all of us who care deeply about “growing up into Christ in every way” (Ephesians 4). And for those of you who care deeply about VP3, these Peterson quotes—while by no means an exhaustive look at “the why?” “the what?” and “the how?” of our VP3 ministry—do offer a portrait of our mission, motivation, and work, captured in Eugene’s nuanced language.
QUOTE #1–SOME OF THE WHY OF VP3
One aspect of ‘world’ that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.
It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. 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.
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society 2nd Edition (IVP, 2000), pp. 15-16.
QUOTE #2–SOME OF THE HOW OF VP3
The language of telling people what to think and what to do dominates most leadership paradigms in the church, with very little, if any, mentoring attention given to the actual details of being a Christian in the home and the workplace.
There are, however, serious efforts being made up and down the line to “re-dig the wells the Philistines have filled” and to recover a leadership of companionship and a spirituality of relationship. Deep Mentoring ranks among the very best of what is being done—a skillful, imaginatively written and strategically placed blessing for all of us who care about the actual nuts-and-bolts living of the Christian life in these times.
Eugene Peterson, Foreword to Deep Mentoring: Guiding Others on Their Leadership Journey by Randy Reese and Robert Loane (IVP, 2012), p. 8.
QUOTE #3–THREE CONVICTIONS ALONG THE WAY
Spiritual direction takes place when two people agree to give their full attention to what God is doing in one (or both) of their lives and seek to respond in faith…. Whether planned or unplanned, three convictions underpin these meetings: (1) God is always doing something: an active grace is shaping this life into a mature salvation; (2) responding to God is not sheer guesswork: the Christian community has acquired wisdom through the centuries that provides guidance; (3) each soul is unique: no wisdom can simply be applied without discerning the particulars of this life, this situation.
Eugene H. Peterson, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity (Eerdmans, 1987), p.150.
QUOTE #4–SOME OF THE WHAT OF VP3
May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (The Message)
Thankful to the Lord for Eugene’s faithful voice in pointing out and accenting the distinctives of Jesus’ way of life and ministry, “for such a time as this.”
Thankful for the unfolding VP3 work we have been called to live into. May we continue to follow the Spirit’s leading. Father, stretch our imagination of what You are up to in the world, in our communities, and in our unique lives. In Jesus’ name.