“The Physical Side of Being Spiritual” -It must have been 45 plus years ago (!!) but I can remember the impact this book and the writer of it had on me like it was last week. The author was on a journey toward a more fully human and relevant spirituality! Uff-Dah! In plain terms, “Sometimes we get so spiritually minded that we are no earthly good!”
In brief, real spirituality is a dirt-under-the-nails, make-chili-and-share, do-real-life-together. It is in the physical participation that we understand others and ourselves-humans as those called to be saints (1 Corinthians 1:2). Curiously, knowledge, mind-development and degrees do not necessary translate caring people-imagine that! Love is transferred through deeds which are really “words” with flesh and bone attached.
How does our spirituality grow with/through practical, mundane things done with/for others? I don’t know but it just does. We are made this way. Kind of like eating eggs is better for us than eating alfalfa– we are humans and not cattle and we need to grow in more than just muscle and bone. When we read about Jesus as a ministry developer or teacher, think more closely how his model of Christian education and Christian growth are tied to participatory learning; through actions with and for others?
What does Jesus’ identification with shepherds, gentiles and unclean, crippled, blind, lame people, welcoming and comforting those called “bad” sinners and immoral people have to do with us? Jesus did that but isn’t that just His thing? How do the physical acts of washing feet, eating in countless odd places with his disciples, sharing a common “bank account” and spending a lot of time together as a odd band of folks around the idea of renewing our human relations with Jesus at the center translate into “Godly stuff”? It happens through us giving up self just enough to make love visible.
What is the physical side of being spiritual? It is like Epiphany experienced in feeling a dawn breaking upon us, out in the wet, cold, and dark of mere human religious obedience. Explaining the how we go from bone-chilling cold to warmth is nothing like really being warmed physically to the point of shivering—if you know what I mean. The appearance of God in human forms really is the church being relevant and relational instead of just trying to be safe or to be right.
Jesus risked his total spirituality on becoming human because He knew the Father’s love had to be revealed this way. Jesus knew love was in being “humbled” and “made fully human”. Let us take Philippians 2:8-9 to heart:
“Jesus set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of slave; became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless, obedient life . . .”
How does letting oneself become fully human change the world? Ask the God-Man, Jesus. Ask the saints. It is divine mystery, the body of Christ; the bread of heaven. Let us live fully, being together in unity and in/with/by/for this amazing God that takes on flesh and bone . . . becoming “small enough that our hearts may be won” (Luther).
stjamesrevrod on After the Serpent . . . H…