12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17, CEB
When I was in seminary I had to take one spirituality class. If you know me at all you know this isn’t my forte, but I was actually kind of excited about it. It was going to be different. Well, the class ended up being disappointing. The professor spent a lot of time talking about how good his book was. He then split us up into small groups and gave us some things to talk about. In our first group session, people talked about their experiences with “the spirit”. There were 10 or 12 people in our group and, with two exceptions (myself and Dan…who would later become a close friend of mine), everyone shared a story about either hearing God’s voice, or praying for a sign only to have a window or door fly open during an otherwise calm night, etc. etc. 10 out of 12 of us had previously had mystical experiences. This got me thinking about spirituality. What is it? How does it look in the Bible? Sure, there are stories about burning bushes and stories about God speaking…are these normal parts of life with God?
I’m not a scholar, but a search of Paul’s writings shows that the spirit has less to do with wild experiences of wind and light as it has to do with being drawn into a different way of being, where we are given, “life and peace,” (Romans 8:6). In addition, the fruits of the spirit (or the signs of the spirit) mentioned in Galatians 5 are similar to what Paul calls us to in these verses: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So…it seems to me that spirituality has much more to do with actively living out these basic attitudes than it does waiting for bushes to catch fire. Compassion, kindness, humility, and the ability to forgive each other and extend grace to each other when things are amiss is spirituality.
More on this tomorrow.