Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Spiritual Practice of Serving Others

This is a great post from Off the Map blog. Click on this link to see a good video about this subject.

The Spiritual Practice of Serving Others


By Jim Henderson

Word association game time…

I say spiritual practice – what images come into your mind?

If you have been formed or influenced by any of the major world religions (including Christianity) you will think of things like
mediation, prayers you recite, ritual liturgical gatherings you attend, mental disciplines and maybe fasting
What you probably won’t include on that list are things like

  • Listening to someone
  • Holding the door for someone
  • Noticing someone across the room who is struggling
  • Asking someone how they are doing and actually paying attention
  • Feeding someone who is hungry
  • Visiting with or advocating for someone who is trouble with the law
  • Dropping clothes off at Goodwill

You may think of these practices as spiritual

You may even do them intentionally, not for points, but in order to be faithful to the God you follow.

Nevertheless you won’t often hear these practices being referred to by church leaders with the same degree of reverence, frequency or fervency as what has become known as the interior spiritual practices.

For some reason, when it comes to being a serious follower of Jesus, the spirituality of serving others doesn’t count for as much as prayer, worship or church attendance. More insidiously we’ve learned to transfer these same values to God who apparently lacks the capacity to see or value the small and invisible things human beings do in their day to day lives to serve others.

This in spite of the fact that Jesus clearly favored the small, invisible and private over the public and obvious saying such things as when you give don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing and when you pray don’t be like the Pharisees and if you want to be my disciples do things like give those without the ability to thank you something as small and ordinary as a cup of cold water (our cultural equivalent would be paying attention to someone without drawing attention to ourselves).

It’s apparent that by his words and practices, Jesus – the founder of our movement and our Master – clearly thought of serving others as a spiritual practice.

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