A while ago…
I told a Christian brother that following Jesus is not about him…
…there was a moment of silent and the conversation went somewhere else. Looking back, I think I sounded quite snobby and disrespectful.
Yesterday I came across a blog post that made me reflected what I said a while ago.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Even in that last phrase “keep oneself unstained from the world”, he’s not talking about monastic retreat, private meditation, or even personal piety. The contextual implication there involves the need to “wash our hands of worldliness” which, throughout the book of James, is defined as self-absorption–a “my life for me” approach to life in contrast from a “my life for you” approach to life. Worldliness then, according to James, is me thinking always about me (see James 4:1-3).
Perhaps next time I should explain that our spiritual growth is not by our individual and often private knowledge of who God is. Rather it is always done in the context of relationship, fellowship and community.
And this makes a lot of sense when Jesus say anyone who follows Him must carry their own cross and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It makes me wonder….sometimes we ask each other..how’s your spiritual walk…and the conversation often goes back to..’oh I need to pray more..I need to read the Bible..I need to attend a conference to know more about God.‘ These are all good things. At the same time, I wonder is that ‘spiritual’ if I focus more on my prayer life and fail to see my neighbors in need of help? (Hmm…parable of Good Samaritan anyone?)
It becomes a self center focus. How’s my relationship with God? Does it sound strange to consider that my relationship with God is not really about me? But Him? And at my neighbors?
I wonder how do I live up to consider myself last and others first in a culture where I put myself first. To be honest, the world, I am pretty sure is all about putting yourself ahead of everyone else. After all, no one is going to take care of you. You better learn how to live on your own. Hehe, how different does the gospel brings. God, is our Heavenly Father who takes care of you.
Real spirituality is forgetting about yourself, washing your hands of you.– Tullian Tchivdjian