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Holistic Spirituality - LOVE

19 June, 2003 8:53 PM

LOVE is the final aspect of the Holistic Spirituality model that we've been looking at this week. Similarly to ACTION the focus is not on the individual in this quadrant but on others — however LOVE is expressed with a narrower focus upon the community of faith. Concepts like 'community', 'fellowship', 'body of Christ' and 'Church' are dominant in here.

People who operate naturally in this quadrant feel most connected to God and alive in their faith when they are journeying with other followers of Jesus. This may mean journeying with others in the areas of TRUTH, WONDER and ACTION but also includes the day to day sharing of life in big and small ways (through meals, pastoral care, shared living and developing friendships with other believers etc).

As with other areas previously explored, Jesus was constantly developing this aspect of Spirituality in his own life and that of his disciples. He calls a diverse group of people to come together to follow him not only as individuals but as a community sharing the ups and downs of life. Together they not only worshipped, learnt and did mission but they also engaged in the normal activities of life including weddings, meals and festivals.

Unity among those he left was of paramount importance to Jesus as we can see in his prayer of John 17 and the topic of LOVE was a constant feature in his teaching.

The early Church recognised early that their only way forward was to continue to journey together. The picture of this dynamic community is an inspiring one (Acts 2:43-47). It is no wonder that this was a growing group that was attractive to those living in the world around them because there was such an emphasis upon caring for those in need and shared life together.

Paul also was convinced that faith was not something for the individual but rather for communities. His language is almost always written in the plural, and his teaching is often focused upon how believers should live together. The Body of Christ imagery(1 Corinthians 12:12-31) paints a wonderful picture of how we are called to operate corporately. Similarly 1 John 3 calls for love to be central.

Likewise the Old Testament is equally as focused with the theme of journeying together. 'Family', 'tribe', 'nation' and 'the people of God' are all central.

My personal journey in this aspect of faith is still developing. As an introvert I sometimes have found it a little difficult to grapple with but recently have felt a growing awareness that the Church is just not cutting it in this area. I wonder if perhaps we delude ourselves that we are in 'community' with our cups of coffee after church and a quick sharing time at the end of bible study. Maybe we're not really willing to risk of getting close to others, maybe we're just lazy or maybe we've just bought into our cultures individualistic obsession!

I think its something we really need to grapple with because in my experience people today are just not willing to believe these days unless they first feel a sense of belonging within communities of faith.

How do you go in this aspect of Spirituality? Is it something you feel you've experienced either in the past or currently? How do you seek to develop community with other believers?

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.



Good stuff mate - I'm an introvert too and would say 'love' is my weakest area - which actually sounds terrible doesn't it!? But there you go...
I actually have felt God speaking to me re the depth of rel thing and callling me to more gutsy rels - but sometimes it feels like writing with my left hand!

hamo » 19 June, 2003 11:08 PM

I'm an introvert too and find this side hard. I'm very much into "family" but struggle with wider connotations of this. I do value relationships and those I have outside my family are deep. After church coffee etc I do not enjoy usually. Ironically, this area is my responsibility! I have trouble connecting with what I see as superficial conversations.

I really do struggle in this area and need to work on it or rather let God work in me. I can talk of his love but find it hard to extend it.

Jan » 20 June, 2003 9:05 AM

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