Last night I heard Bishop Lee (Bishop of Swindon) speaking at a confirmation service, he started off by talking about “Spirituality” and asked the question “Spirituality: The Icing? Or the Cake?”
It was a great picture too often we view spirituality as a nice sideline or hobby, a bolt on, a leisure activity that can be squeezed into busy lives.
And for some people that is how their Spirituality works for them, in the midst of a busy week, couple hours at Yoga, and then carry on with life as normal, living as we always had, except perhaps maybe slightly less stressed.
Yet for the Christian, Spirituality isn’t just an activity we slot amongst the other stuff, it is the way we live our lives, all the time, day in and day out (24-7, 365 -what it means to be a living sacrifice, there on the altar of God by choice)..
Not just a drizzle of icing but the whole cake.
This made me think about how we lead our lives as Christians.
I wondered if I really exhibited the fruit of the Spirit “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness (or in some translations generosity), Kindness and Self Control” whether people would be challenged and think “what is it in his life that makes such a difference I want some of that!”
Perhaps we need to explore what it means that “he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world”, “Christ in us the hope of glory” and “treasure in Jars of clay”… A life where God is glorified in us, a life lived as life was intended to be lived by God is bound to be noticed, it will be like “stars shining in the darkness” unmissable like salt or light.
I think there is something wonderfully missional about our lives being different from the world around us.
We live in a world where people don’t know who they are, looking for authenticity, desperate to know what really matters in a materialistic and superficial world.
St. Francis talked about our hearts being restless until we find our rest in him, and we see how restless our world is, especially in the west where everyone is so driven, hyped up on red-bull, but not actually sure where they are going, nor sure of the direction of their lives, but feel the pressure to go where-ever it is fast!
Interestingly my friend Jonathan who used to lead a Church called B1 in Birmingham said he was often involved in coversations about wanting to lead a good life, the New Monastic Group Moot does life coaching, amazingly rich city types pay vast sums of money for someone to help them explore how to live their lives, because it clearly really matters to them.
I am reminded of Freddie Mercury’s Song “Does anybody know what we are living for?” -Freddie Mercury was a deeply spiritual man, but never managed to get “a handle on life” describing himself as “desperately lonely”.
We have this wonderful gift to give the world, but unfortunately it is also a gift that as Christians in the west we haven’t really fully opened, explored and enjoyed.
Instead becoming like Chameleons trying to blend into the world around us, when really we were called to stand out, why will people listen to what we say, when they look at our lives and can’t see anything different from their own.
I think of some of the wonderful wise (often elderly) saints I know, and I am really drawn to them, I find conversation with them incredibly inspiring. I think part of their appeal is that they have walked deeply with Christ and that is something deeply attractive.
Too often we end up apologizing for what actually makes us beautiful and attractive to the world around us.
Let’s be unashamed of the difference Christ makes to us in our lives, in the highs and in the lows, in the good times and the bad.
Ironically, when we live our lives following Christ we become more the person we were created to be, more fully us.
Bishop Lee cited Archbishop Rowan meeting Archbishop Tutu, and described him as a guy “enjoying being Demond Tutu”, this isn’t talking about pride or vanity, but rather being someone comfortable being themselves.
We live so much of our lives worried about what others will think of us, and yet really what matters is the audience of one, Christ himself, what does he think of us?
People talk a lot about mission, and a lot about discipleship, as though our sharing our faith and our everyday lives are somehow different, but I think the reality is who we are is what speaks volumes, and yet Churches we have worried to much about “saying the right thing” rather than “living the right way”.
So, lets be people that embrace the cake, not just a frosting of spirituality icing.