As disciple-makers we have a number of challenges. One challenge is how to be spiritual people. Many cultures around the world have experienced Christianity and had some form of institutional Christianity in society. The secular world knows our ‘rules’ and many have experienced forms of judgement. And people have been turned off Jesus by ‘religiosity’. This is tragic. So our challenge is… how can we be spiritual rather than religious? What does it look and feel and sound like to be a ‘spiritual’ person rather than a ‘religious person’? Perhaps more love and less rules? Perhaps less church meetings and more gatherings with people in their worlds? Perhaps more praying for people in their desperation and sin rather than withdrawing from them? Jesus was the perfect example of being spiritual in a culture and society that was saturated with religion. He loved, was inclusive, healed the broken-hearted and set the captives free, he touched the lepers and cleansed them. This is what we need to look like too! And then perhaps those spiritually hungry people will start to find us!
This story from the Singapore team is a simple example of being spiritual and how the family included others in their spirituality. Be encouraged as you read it to be spiritual in every day situations and watch the fruit of this. Jesus- help us to be spiritual people and show us how we need to change.
Two months ago, we met our son’s kindergarten teacher, TK. TK always dresses in very conservative religious clothing.
When we see this, it usually means either:
1) someone who is very religious, and therefore very resistant to spiritual things they aren’t familiar with, or
2) someone who is very spiritual – hungry for spiritual reality and reaching for God in the way their culture tells them to do that.
We had a number of conversations as our son has settled into kinder, and it is very clear that TK is a great educator who cares for her students and is prepared to put extra time and effort into their development.
The context was always school-related, but we touched on spiritual things during a conversation one day when TK and I were team coaching our son about an incident in the classroom that he didn’t handle very well.
“Is there anybody you could have asked for help?” I asked (thinking of his teacher).
“Yeah – I should have asked God for help,” our son replied.
“That’s true,” I responded – not looking at TK but wondering how she was reacting to this, “You can ask Him for help, and He has also given you TK to help you in that situation, so you should ask and obey her, too.”
Apart from nodding her agreement, there was no reaction from TK, and she never mentioned the conversation.
A couple of months later our son had his end-of-year exit interview. During the conversation TK asked why we had come to Singapore given how tough the education system is on kids. Instead of taking the ‘safe’ route (“For work.”), we took a chance and shared how it was the result of prayer – guidance through a dream which seemed to be confirmed by our community and others who were praying for us, and how we had come here trusting that God would meet our needs and the needs of our kids.
TK’s response was a simple nod, “I understand, because I am a spiritual person like you guys.”
This was so encouraging to hear, because that is exactly how we want to be known in our community – as spiritual people. This will help us find and serve people who are open and hungry to explore God.