The Practices of Passionate Spirituality
Passionate Spirituality – who doesn’t want it? Consider how important it is to Starbucks and Teavana. They have recently begun a campaign where with every cup of coffee you get a “Steep Your Soul” quote. They write that the “Steep your Soul” quotes “invite you to take a few moments to pause and reflect each day. Your own personal steep time.” Then, on the other side of your Quad-Half-Calf-2%-Caramel-Macchiato you get a quote to help you steep you soul. One cup quotes Oprah Winfrey: Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.
I mention all that to make the point that the general population who have common sense (that would exclude those who prefer Dunkin Donuts) are also interested in spirituality. Here’s the thing. Not that I don’t like Oprah but who made her the authority on spirituality? She could teach me endless things about how to run a company or host a talk show but when it comes to spirituality I am going to the Bible.
So what exactly is spirituality according to the Bible? Well, as Jesus said, “God is Spirit”. Further, after Jesus rose physically from the dead he sent God the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is essential to true human flourishing or true Spirituality (note the capital “S”). He comes as the gift to all those that trust that Jesus’ death saves. He comes as the guide for all those longing for a renewed human life of true and passionate Spirituality.
What about passion? What does that have to do with Spirituality? Well, to put it simply – if you have Spirituality then you have passion (or desire or longing or loving or whatever you want to call it). The two go together like coffee and cream. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” If my passion is not for the kingdom of God then my longing will be for some alternate kingdom, some other vision of human flourishing.
Alright, granting you want to be passionately Spiritual, and not just in some bland pluralist “sparks the light” blah blah blah sort of way but the Jesus-Christ-True-to-Reality sort of way, then you want to know how to go about it. Here’s the kick – it doesn’t just happen. In the Old and New Testament God again and again commends practices and habits that help to develop passionate Spirituality. Gathering with others for regular worship, singing songs together about the Kingdom of God, praying alone and with others, listening to the voice of God in Scripture, being still before God in recognition of his majesty, and others are examples of practices that help to further passionate Spirituality. The Scriptures even commend wise creativity with respect to these practices. For example, Jesus went to synagogue week-in-and-week-out yet this was never commanded (Luke 4:16).
Warning: these practices are not to be honed in order to force God to do stuff for you. These practices are not to be trotted out as reasons for people to notice you. These practices are not to be done the same way by everybody at all times and places.
The idea is that just as a trellis gives guidance for the vine so too Spiritual practices give structure to the truly passionate life in Christ. Rooted in Jesus through faith we can grow more and more into those who truly long for the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
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