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Holistic Spirituality - ACTION

19 June, 2003 8:57 AM

ACTION is the third quadrant of the Holistic Spirituality model. This is where spirituality extends beyond being purely an 'inner' thing and impacts the world around us. The emphasis leans more towards 'doing' and ones attention comes off the self and is lifted to include others. The two areas of JUSTICE (seeking to stand up for injustices faced by individuals, groups and the environment) and EVANGELISM/MISSION (seeking to share the Gospel message with others whether within or across cultures) generally dominate this quadrant. They are often seen as separate but I feel that they can and should be, where possible, strongly linked.

In the same way that some will find themselves naturally drawn to connecting with God in the areas of TRUTH and WONDER, others will find themselves feeling most alive in God when they are participating in what God is doing in the world they live in. This can be expressed in many ways ranging from as formal missionaries both locally or overseas, to sharing ones faith in a place of study, work or home, to being involved in local community groups.

Jesus was constantly engaged in Action. If you were to tear out every page of the gospels where he didn't heal, cast out a demon, preach, stand up for someone or against some issue you would have very little left, if anything. His mission statement (Luke 4:18-19) should have given those around him a hint at what his focus would be as should his teaching which called people out of a selfish focus to that of service. He was also interested in drawing his disciples into this action frenzy as can be seen from his calling 'I will teach you how to fish for people'. (Matthew 4:19) through to his last words to them 'Go make disciples' (Matthew 28:18-20) and 'You will be my witnesses'. (Acts1:7-8)

The early church was eager to grapple with Jesus' commands to action. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and under persecution they changed the world they lived on baptising thousands and planting churches as they were forced to scatter throughout the known world. Along the way they continued the pattern of healing (Acts 5:12) and preaching that had been established by Jesus.

The Old Testament is also rich with material in this area with many passages showing Gods desire for his people to be creating a just society. The exhortation to care for the widow, orphan, refuge and the poor are repeated again and again. (Isaiah 1:17)

James sums it up as bluntly with the words, 'Faith without works is dead, it is no faith at all.' (James 2:14-17) Billy Graham says faith without works is like inhaling without exhaling (which could be rather messy). Another nice analogy is that faith and works are like the two chemical components of salt, sodium and chloride, both of which by themselves will kill you if you sprinkle them on your steak and chips but when combined as salt they are a life giving property. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that they were 'the salt of the earth'!?

This is another area that I personally have grown a lot in over the past few years. Growing up I always shied away from it, mainly out of fear that I didn�t have the formulaic evangelism method that I'd been taught in �missions lesson� at church down pat. It might also have been slightly put off by the fact that our youth pastor forced us to go door knocking and street evangelising with him every now and again! More recently I�ve been relieved to find that mission is not just about bowling strangers up in the street with a bible and �selling� them Jesus and that relational evangelism is also a valid and effective approach in the times we live in! I've also felt a growing passion of late for a number of local and international social justice issues and have begun to explore what my personal response might be. Again, I'm no expert in this area, but am loving the recent freedom that I've found to operate within it.

Is ACTION a natural and important way that you connect with God? In what ways have you experienced or struggled with it? Why do you think so many people do struggle with it? (most groups I've taken through this model have identified this as their weakest area) Leave a comment to spur the rest of us onto action!

UPDATE: Here are the complete set of links to this series. 1. INTRO - 2. TRUTH - 3. WONDER - 4. ACTION - 5. LOVE - 6. Wrapping it all up.

Comments

Page:

D, I am really enjoying these instalments, and particularly interested in how they they connect in with our ideas of Peter, John, Mary and Thomas spirituality - so far these have covered some of the same key distinctions, so I look forward to seeing the final instalment.

dan » 19 June, 2003 5:18 PM

Hmmm. Another refugee from all those "witnessing" courses which made me cringe. I do speak out, because I believe I can't always take refuge in being introverted. However, I have found the "justice" area is being allowed to rise in me more and more.

I spent many years in an atmosphere which waas strongly calvinistic, so what's the point of justice etc? Being removed from that now, I can let that develop.

When I speak at camps etc this is one area which often unconsciously addressed in my talks. Blogging has been another outlet for this.

Shalom,
Jan

Jan » 20 June, 2003 9:11 AM

Action, in the form of witnessing, is definitely my weakest point. I like to blame it on my introverted personality as Jan mentioned, but I know that's not really a good excuse. there isn't a good excuse, I suppose.

meg » 21 June, 2003 12:45 PM

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