This post was taken (with permission) from the blog of Andrew Arndt. Andrew is the pastor of Bloom church in Denver, CO, and will be presenting at the Praxis Conference in June.
American Christians are a funny group. We declare loudly that Jesus was (and is) a huge opponent of organized religion, that in fact one of the reasons he came was to deliver us from religion…
…and then we keep showing up to worship on Sundays.
And somehow we fail to see the contradiction.
If we just stopped for a minute, though, and thought about the reason we (who apparently worship an anti-religious Jesus) keep showing up on Sundays, we’d be on to something.
Of course some people (and maybe all of us at some time or another) do it out of a sense of obligation, or because they think that in doing so they’ll be more pleasing to God or earn points with God or whatever…
But in our best moments, we do it out of a deep and visceral sense that our connectedness to the God we love and the brightness of his light in our lives depends on it. We have this core belief that unless we keep facing this God, that something tragic and dark will happen to our souls. And on the flip side, the more we face him (and ourselves), the more we’ll walk deeply into the truth of things, and of course in doing so our lives will light up with love and glory.
This, of course, is what healthy married couples do. They live their lives in patterned ways that help them keep facing each other in love, delight, sometimes confrontation, and always with good faith that the relationship has more to be unearthed. They go to bed together as often as they can, eat meals together as often as they can, create spaces where they can talk and share their hearts as often as they can, take date nights, etc etc.
It’s downright religious.
Now think of what would happen in your life if you took the core intuition that guides your regular engagement with Sunday worship, and built it out a bit. Imagine what would happen if you incorporated regular prayer, engagement with the Scriptures, solitude, silence, fasting, Sabbath, etc etc., into the tapestry of your lived spirituality as a way of facing, more consistently and deeply, God and yourself. What would happen?
Chances are, your sense of vitality, integration, and connectedness with God would grow. And more than that, your lived experience of being human would improve, for to face God is to come more and more into possession of our true selves.
It was this conviction that underpinned a little experiment me and the staff at Bloom undertook 18 months ago. What would happen to us, we wondered, if we committed together to a constellation of spiritual practices, a “rule of life”, which would guide and shape our spirituality?
We wondered about that for awhile… and then wondered some more… and then did it… and found that it was one of the best spiritual experiences of our lives…
Our belief is that there are many in the church today who love Jesus, but have no realistic idea of how to cultivate a meaningful lived spirituality before him, and as a consequence their spirituality is random, haphazard, and underdeveloped.
This need not be. The Church has given us countless resources and time-honored spiritual practices to help us become fully human before the face of God. We’ve taken a few of them and woven them together to help guide us on our journey before him (if you’re interested in joining us, we’d love to have you: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1393625050887210/).
Grace, mercy, and peace be with you…