The Common Spiritual Life
We surely are spiritual beings. Created in the image of God. Called to divine communion…prayer, transformation, holiness. This all sounds very good, but most of the time I don’t feel so spiritual.
I live a common life. A life of transporting kids. A life of bills. A life of coworkers, neighbors, friends, enemies, and strangers. A common life filled with colds, car repairs, dinners out, dinners in, asking forgiveness and offering forgiveness. A life of luke-warm coffee, a stack or two of “things I’ll get to”, of books I love and books I long to read.
The Two Intersect
Here is the thing, God created us to live a very common, very spiritual life. These two lives are enmeshed, knotted together, and inseparable. We need look no further than the life of Christ to see his dirty feet giving evidence of the common existence he lived in this world. The hands of a carpenter offering compassion to a woman caught in adultery. The dry mouth of a traveler seeking water from a Samaritan woman. The sundried face of a man receiving a betraying kiss from a friend. The mourning, laughing, teaching, reprimanding of a man/God.
We do a disservice to ourselves and to our faith if we seek to differentiate between the sacred and secular parts of our lives. Our spiritual pursuit of justice must engage the common world of our politics. Our spiritual pursuit of holiness needs to collide with our common sense of “who is our neighbor”. Our spiritual desire to love as Christ loved us is challenged by our common want to love our family and friends well (and don’t forget our enemies).
The Ins and Outs
John Fischer wrote the following poem to call every Christian into the mysterious tension of being in the world, but not of the world…being common and spiritual.
“In it, not of it,” the statement was made as Christian One faced the world, much afraid.
“In it, not of it,” the call was made clear, but Christian One got something stuck in his ear.
“Not in it, or of it” was the thing that he heard. And knowing the world was painfully absurd,
He welcomed the safety of pious retreat, and went to the potluck for something to eat.
Now Christian Two, he knew what to do, he'll show those fundies a thing or two!
How will the world ever give Christ a try if we don’t get in there and identify?
So “In it and of it,” he said in his car, as he pulled in and stopped at a popular bar.
“I’ll tell them the truth just as soon as I’m able to get myself out from under this table.”
Now along comes Christian Three jogging for Jesus, in witnessing sweats made of colorful pieces.
His earbuds are playing a hot Christian tune about how the Lord is coming back soon.
“Not in it, but of it” he turns down the hill and stops for a bite at the Agape Grille.
Like the gold on the chain of his ‘God Loves You’ bracelet he can have the world without having to face it.
While way up in heaven they lament these conditions that come from changing a few prepositions.
“Not in it or of it” Christian One thought. But who in the world will know that he’s not?
“In it and of it” thought Christian Two. But who in the world will know that he knew?
“Not in it but of it” thought Christian Three. But who in the world watches Christian TV?
And Jesus turns to Gabriel, shaking his head. “In it, not of it” isn’t that what I said?