Saturday, December 20, 2008

Simple Spirituality

I finally finished a book now that the semester has concluded... This one is small... but has been a work in progress for sometime now.

I think we can all agree that not much is simple these days.  Complicating simplicity is the fact that we live in an information saturated society with the ability to access incredible amounts of knowledge in rapid fire succession.  At times, this excessive knowledge spills over into spiritual lives, leaving us with piles of books, concordances, and commentaries with which to understand our spirituality.  Sometimes these tools are very helpful, and sometimes, the weight of it all can be slightly overwhelming.

I was first introduced to Simple Spirituality by my buddy Dan Byrd.  Chris Heuertz (the author) was a friend of his during their college careers at Asbury.  Heuertz is the director of Word Made Flesh, an organization which serves among the poorest of the poor.  Simple Spirituality stays true to its title by exploring five simple yet profound commitments:

  • Humility 
  • Community
  • Simplicity 
  • Submission
  • Brokenness
Heuertz uses stories of his relationships with the poor around the world to illustrate the depth of spirituality he has learned from them, people who are constantly overlooked by the majority of the world.  He examines what the wealthy western church misses from its lack of connection to the poor.  Heuertz writes, "I believe that God is using the cries of our friends who suffer in poverty today to call the church out of its sound-proof sanctuaries... God is challenging the church to respond to a world in need.  Too often, however, the church has isolated itself and failed to listen. and thus contributed to the suffering.  God is calling us to establish communities that offer the prophetic presence of Christ in today's world."

Heuertz also addresses the temptation to use personal geography to justify disengaging from the difficulties of the rest of the world.  He concludes that "those who go without the basic necessities of life, regardless of their geographical location or proximity, are nevertheless counted as our family:  fellow believers in the Sudan or Sri Lanka or Peru are as much an intrinsic part of the body of Christ as are the Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists or Catholics down the street."  He asserts that it is simplicity that helps us to remember such family obligations.

With deep gentleness, Heuertz uses the brokenness of the world as a springboard for spiritual vitality.  Using what he calls the "Five Stones of Brokenness" - humility, community, simplicity, submission, and brokenness - he challenges those of us who live in plenty to seek a fuller faith by reconsidering how we might "live more simply so others may simply live" (Ghandi).

In no way am I bashing the church.  I think in today's Christian subculture it has become trendy to rip the church.  However, what most forget is that the Church is Christ's Bride.  Personally, if you EVER said anything about my Bride... let's just say... I will not be very happy.  Therefore, I can't see Jesus being exceptionally thrilled to have people (claiming to follow Him) talk negatively about His Bride.  I know that the church has failed in many ways... one of which is brought to light throughout this book.  However, simply pointing these inconsistencies out does not help anything but one's ego.  Instead, I would encourage everyone to engage the church with love and constructive criticism.  If you have a heart for the poor and oppressed (which everyone should) then engage the church, pushing them to get involved in these specific issues in the community.  I just didn't want anyone to read this post (if anyone does... haha) and think I have just joined the bandwagon of ripping the church.  I have not... I love the church and plan to give my life to serve Christ through it.

This book was a great read... flows wonderfully and will give anyone who has not been to a third-world country a glimpse into true poverty.  I would recommend it for sure.



Nathan said...

Yeah I would definitely smash a dude for talking bad about my bride. You should move into a tent for a while. Now that's simple

Bobby said...

i would ... but i know this guy who did that for a year... he turned out a little crazy.