we are what we do

I recently heard about a BBC study that found that the area of the brain that helps with navigation is larger in London taxi drivers than the average citizen. This begs the question as to whether one becomes a taxi driver because they are genetically predisposed to be good navigators, or whether this part of their brain has developed and grown as a result of years of driving around the city. I think a reasonable person would agree that the latter would be true.

This got me thinking about the various Christian disciplines, both individual and communal, and what it means to be a person who regularly prays, practices hospitality etc. Building on that study, it can be concluded that over time, one can go from being a person who prays to a praying person – in fact, the more that you engage in these practices, it actually becomes part of your physiological being.

As we are formed into Christian community, we are meant to learn the virtues of good living, to display an embodied knowledge of what we claim to be. Friendship, compassion, justice, courage, love, true hospitality [hospitality not simply in a ‘come over for coffee and sponge cake’ kind of way, but in a way that embraces the neighbor, the stranger, the enemy] – these are all virtues that we are called to display and live by as followers of Christ. While people say, and rightly so, that it’s not necessarily what you do that’s important, but who you are, the fact is that one physically becomes this kind of Kingdom person by doing over a long period of time.

Another thought: in class the other day, John Swinton was talking about Christ being with and ministering to those who were on the margins of society. But he was doing more that that – he was actually shifting the margins. The Kingdom of God redefines the boundaries. Those that are convinced that they are ‘in’ will find themselves to be ‘out’, and vice versa.

I recommend John Swinton’s writing, by the way. Very good stuff.

Off to celebrate Lauren’s new post [job, in UK language]!

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