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
Yesterday I wrote about the fact that spirituality might be more practical than what we typically think of. Miraculous healings, burning bushes, blinding lights, etc. are perhaps signs of the spirit at work but they are not the dominant way in which we see God’s spirit in our lives. Life in the spirit looks like some combination of receiving the spirit (not taking the spirit) and then making conscious choices to live in accordance with God’s vision for life in the spirit (through acts of compassion, kindness, humility, love, forgiveness, and more). In other words, it’s a two-fold process (at least), where we’re open and willing to receive and then we practice.
It would be very nice if allowing the spirit to work within us was akin to moving to the passenger seat and letting someone else take care of the driving while we take a nap. Unfortunately, it’s more like Driver’s Ed. You have someone in the passenger seat giving you wisdom and guidance which you have to translate into action as you drive. This is important, because when things are amiss we can’t simply trust that God (or the spirit, or something else outside of ourselves) is just going to take care of whatever the problem is. We may receive guidance from the spirit and from the community but ultimately it’s on us to practice the disciplines of love, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.
On the one hand, this is good news because we’re empowered. On the other hand, it means we have some responsibility for our spirituality. It’s not just going to take care of itself.
Faith is hard!