When you hear the word “spirituality,” what images come to mind? Pull up a search engine on your phone or computer and search “spirituality” or “Christian spirituality.” What are some of the common elements that you find?
Find some time to read Acts 2 and pay special attention to what the response is of the new group of believers that come together in 2:42-47. When Luke, the author of Acts, paints a picture of “Christian spirituality,” what images do you see? How do these contrast with the images you found on the internet?
There are five basic ways of connecting with God: Scripture reading/intellect, contemplation/prayer, relationships with others, acts of service, and through emotions/worship. This Sunday, we’re going to start a short series on connecting with God through our relationships with others.
I want to leave you with a few thoughts to wrestle with over the next few weeks that I’ve been wrestling with for a while. I hope to make us all a little uncomfortable but move us towards a deeper spiritual life together. Let’s go on a journey together.
One of the biggest detriments to Christianity in the Western world in the last few hundred years is the development of hyper-individuality. The “Age of Enlightenment” began at the end of the 17thcentury and dominated philosophy and politics of the 18thand early 19thcenturies. This age in philosophy brought about the American and French Revolutions, dismissed God to the heavens and out of everyday life, and developed the autonomy of the individual. In the centuries to follow, spirituality became a deeply personal part of life, the individual took greater emphasis over the community, and God ultimately has been dismissed from our public spaces. I’m painting with a very broad brush because people tend to glaze over whenever philosophy and history come into conversation. I give this brief history to show that the world we live in is not the world that the early Christians lived in.
If you were to ask Peter, John, or Paul about their “personal walk with Jesus,” they would start telling you about the church, living in community with others, walking alongside people that they would not have chosen to walk with, and how the power of the Holy Spirit brings all people together as one people through Jesus Christ. While they would have elements of their personal lives that help them develop spiritually as an individual, they would have seen these practices as means to developing lifegiving relationships with those in the Christian community. Take a moment to think about this view of Christian spirituality as you read Ephesians 2.
There’s a lot more that I would like to go into, but we have a few weeks to wrestle with what it means to love God and connect with God through relationships with others. Here are some questions for you to sit with for the next few weeks:
- If God makes his covenant with a people, and not a person, can a person truly be a Christian and refuse to be part of Christian community?
- If the only people you engage in Christian community with are people who look like you, think like you, and are in the same socio-economic position as you, are you living out the call to “oneness” in Ephesians 2 (and other areas of the Bible)?
- How can you engage in relationship with others at QCC beyond our time together in Sunday morning worship?
- Shifting our thinking from individual to community, how does this change how you approach “church membership”?