Friday, September 25, 2009

Please get rid of your spiritual life…

Guest post by Pastor Sam Neves

Somewhere along the line I think we missed the point. I am constantly reminded of the difference between secular and sacred, worldly and spiritual.

Have you ever wondered why so much energy has been spent labeling parts of our life? I remember being taught that I should develop my academic life, my professional life, my family life and you guessed it, my spiritual life. Over the years I have noticed that if each area of my life was compared to a slice of pizza (can’t help it, my family is Italian), then my spiritual life was just another slice of the pizza.

In practice, this meant having to do my morning worship to feed my spiritual life before I faced the secular world. It meant dedicating one day a week to my spiritual life, the Sabbath, whilst caring for my needs on the rest of the week. It meant having to choose certain music as sacred and ignoring others as secular. Some friendships were spiritual whilst others were worldly. Maybe you can relate. If you are happy with this, please forget this invitation and stop reading now!

If you are not fully satisfied with this formula, please read on...

When I realized what my life had become - a compartmentalized complex of disconnected interests - I did what I’m inviting you to do: I got rid of my spiritual life.

“But I thought you were a pastor?” I hear you ask.

Yes, I still am. So here is what I mean:
I realized that the Bible doesn't separate our life. It seems far more interested in showing that God is in every part of it. If our various activities are like the slices of the pizza, our spiritual life is the box that holds everything together. Furthermore, it’s the cheese that melts through every slice. I call this Domino’s Theology! This has given me incredible freedom to explore my life as a dynamic whole. Everything changed.

Today I no longer divide my day between the moments with God and facing the world. As a fellow pastor, Rob Bell, has put it, everything is spiritual. In my own life, here are a few examples:
  • Kissing my wife and baby in the morning - spiritual
  • Eating - spiritual
  • Driving - spiritual
  • Shopping - spiritual
  • Facebook - spiritual
  • Listening to music, any music - spiritual
  • Going to the toilet - spiritual (Try it - it’s great!)
  • Preaching - spiritual
  • Praying - spiritual
  • Playing Tennis - spiritual
  • Reading, any reading, including the Bible - spiritual
  • Sex - very spiritual
  • Hospital visitation - spiritual
  • Starbucks visitation - spiritual
  • Everything, I really mean it, everything is spiritual

When I read the story of Jesus it is abundantly clear that he would have never referred to his spiritual life because everything he did was spiritual. Sure, he spent much time in prayer, but that had no less spirituality than healing the sick or going to meals and parties. Paul goes further: ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31).
Spiritual BoundaryImage by vincos via Flickr

So how is my life now? Well, I’m free! For example, my music collections are no longer secular vs. gospel. There are certain tunes that I simply deleted from my iPod. Other tunes that I would have considered ‘secular’ and listened to with a slightly heavy conscious, now speak loud and clear into how amazing God is. Just as an example of each, I no longer listen to ‘Learn to Fly’, by Foo Fighters whilst many songs by Leona Lewis have become deeply spiritual to me because of just how accurate they are in describing my love for Amy, my wife (The First Time I Every Saw you; Here I am; Footprints in the Sand; etc).

I can now see God everywhere I look. When my life was divided, I used to ask a very silly question: ‘Where is God?’ Now that everything is spiritual, the real question is: ‘Where isn’t God?’ My ministry has become to invite people to see where God has been in their lives all along. I no longer take God to the ‘secular’ people as God can be quite heavy! I truly believe that God is already there because they are people and so God is fully present in their lives - they just can’t see it yet.

In Acts 14 Paul addresses a crowd that really doesn’t believe in God and proclaims: “Yet he [God] has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (v. 17) It was God who gave them rain, food and joy. Joy! The next time you see a family playing and laughing in a park - it is God who is giving them that joy - but they might not be aware of it yet.

So once again, let me invite you to get rid of your spiritual life and discover the amazing truth that everything is spiritual. Join me as we take praying without ceasing to a whole new level. Walk with me through the streets of our cities showing people just how close God has been all along.

So once and for all - please get rid of your spiritual life...

Sam Neves is the senior pastor of Wimbledon International Seventh-day Adventist Church. You can read more of his story in the Adventist Review: Fulfilling a Mother's Dream

His recent post in Spectrum is also a great read.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]