Over the past few years at the College we have been looking closely and dedicating a year to one of the key aspects of the Building Purposeful Lives (BPL) Framework. This year our focus is on Virtue and it has already sparked some interesting conversations among staff teams. Virtue is a tricky concept to consider and encapsulates so many aspects of our lives. As a staff team we have been reading through the Sermon on the Mount to build our understanding and application of virtue. This section of the gospel is where Jesus is teaching about ways to live, values to embed and what’s important about life. Going through these verses one by one it’s easy to come away and think that this virtuous life is quite a lofty goal and could be interpreted to be all about outward works rather than an inward transformation through Christ.
But I wonder if it can be both.
One of the first books I read after becoming a Christian (apart from the Bible) was Inside Out by Larry Crabb. It’s an older book but still has some great truths for today. The main themes in the book highlight that just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean that you will automatically stop sinning and that your life becomes unicorns and butterflies. If anything, it made me realise the depth and power of the grace of God, the price that was paid on the Cross and for how much I have been forgiven. And this isn’t just for me. It’s for me to then share with others and to live differently through that grace. God certainly did a work on my heart, on my inner person, but from that came some changes to how I lived outwardly. I started to live a more virtuous life, by no means perfect, but a life that reflected the love and grace of God.
As we are working through the Sermon on the Mount we have been using this question to frame our reflection – How does a focus on virtue fit with our gospel-centred mission? As we continue to reflect on this question it is becoming more and more clear that the inward change that the Gospel has on a person is always going to overflow into a virtuous life. Not a perfect life, but one that seeks to be kind, generous and forgiving – exactly what has been shown to all of us through Christ. I would like to encourage you to read through the Sermon on the Mount over the coming days (found in Matthew chapter 5 onwards) and find for yourself the grace and truth of Christ.