I’ve just finished reading Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World (IVP, 2008), written by Christopher L. Heuertz. I heard Heuertz speak last month at the MissionsFest 2010 Conference in Edmonton, Canada. After listening to him speak, I was impressed by his spirituality and found myself wanting to learn more from him so I bought the book to learn about what Heuertz calls Lifestyle Celebrations.
I was very much challenged by Heuertz in the area of humbling myself before God so that I may see the poor and care for them, living more simply, and submitting to respond to my neighbor’s needs, and being a broken person inside so that I can be used by God to bring healing and redemption to a broken world. To get to this place, I need to practice a disciplined and self-conscious spiritual formation. What’s this? One thing that I have found absent in our North American church is that we don’t practice spiritual discipline. Our excuse is that it is too hard, or that it is too oriented around law. Our theological has held us captive to our own sense of what is right and good. The protestant church needs a change of heart.
The stories of Heuertz’s experience from India are extremely gut-wrenching. Heuertz draws from the his experience of working in South India with Mother Theresa. They are very vivid and if you are emotionally weak-kneed or faint of heart, you will melt. If you are unemotional, you will crack. Either way, a reader will be moved one way or another. The pain and suffering that happens amongst the Missionaries of Charity can be extreme-to-the-max.
A stronger sense of community is something that we also need take more seriously. Most protestants, and evangelicals especially, do not have a strong sense of community. Heuertz states:
The faith of the North American church has become very exclusive. If someone does not fit the social and economic mold of our churches, they may have a tough time being accepted by the Christians there. How many of us wouldn’t stare if someone who prostitutes walked into the sanctuary on Sunday morning—would not wonder why he or she was there, would not judge and criticize him or her in our hearts and minds? Those who prostituted in first century Palestine felt as if they could spend time with Jesus—why can’t they feel the same way with his followers?
That’s a good point. We may preach about Jesus drawing the line in the sand and saving the adulteress from stoning, but we would also demand that she repent quickly–the minute she walks into the church (or if she would actually walk into a church, that is). In our self-righteous piety, we sure don’t make sinners feel very welcome in our churches. Maybe something does need to change–starting with us, otherwise, how will they hear the gospel and make a change in their life? Heuertz makes a good point. He says:
If we don’t embrace a meaningful humility, community, simplicity, submission and brokenness as part of faith, such wounds may simply become more and more infected. We can’t simply proclaim God’s love and sing about it. We need to simply live it.