Wow. I just read a great article by Roger Wolsey called “Spiritual But Not Giving a Damn.” In the article, he begins by explaining the trend in spiritual but not religious identity. Either young people who do not want to become part of a denomination or label, or people who have been burned by church congregations, often seek personal, self-help and enlightenment as an alternative to Sunday school. Myself included. I’ve been around so many sickeningly-sweet churches, with unrealistic expectations and self-righteous church elders. I decided that I would learn about the God stuff by myself, and focus on meditation and self-improvement. Here’s an excerpt from Wolsey’s article:
Ironically, certain spiritual practices popular among the SBNR crowd are in fact quite helpful in fostering and sustaining a yearning and desire for cohesiveness and mutual support. Centering prayer, meditation, fasting/“cleansing,” labyrinth walking, raking a sand garden, tracing a finger mandala, praying with beads, and spending quiet time in nature are the sorts of things that helped Jesus to not burn-out during his first year of ministry. But, without anyone connecting-the-dots (aka organized religion), unity isn’t what is fostered by such practices, rather, selfish isolationism.
This hit me right in the face. I’ve forgotten, or abandoned, any idea of spiritual/religious community. Sure, I like helping people in need, and discussing ideas with people. I thought that would be enough. But if I say that I identify with Jesus- I must look at His example. He didn’t do things alone, and he didn’t call for enlightened but inactive followers. In Mark 6, it says he sent out his disciples in 2 to do work in the community. Jesus literally is loving your neighbor. I agree with the author, that mediation and self improvement is vital for our well being. But to grow character, we must serve one another in love through friendships, teaching, and even arguing- when it leads to forgiveness and deeper understanding or respect.
I don’t know how or if I’ll find a fellowship group here (because of my geographical location), but maybe I will find a way to serve and fellowship online. If I do, I will share the information.