Sunday, December 5, 2010
The Disciple’s Life, Lived
Of everything I’ve read through almost all of Spencer’s book, that one sentence is, for me, one of the hardest.
I’m reminded of just how hard the disciple’s life is.
I’m reminded of just how far I’ve fallen short.
The key word in the sentence is “lived.”
I have to ask myself how much I’ve lived as a disciple, and how much I’ve floated, just treading water, simply and mindlessly staying in place.
Spencer says this about Jesus-shaped spirituality: it is personal and communal; it is mentored; it is saturated in the Scriptures; it grows in the context of service and the gospel; and it’s found in relationships.
Introverts read that, and we immediately feel the pain in “painfully shy.” Four of the five require the presence of others.
We’re not good thrown into a situation where we know virtually no one. We can’t start a conversation about sports or fishing or camping because we don’t do or follow those things. (For me, biking comes the closest, but it easily lends itself to being a singular sport.) Our worst nightmare: attending the cocktail hour at a professional conference where we don’t know a soul. It’s easy to spot us – we’re the ones who have something to read in our hands, usually the conference agenda, so it looks like we’re doing something (anything!) but only kidding ourselves that others don’t see how shy we actually are.
Many times, people see the shyness and think aloofness or superiority.
People wouldn’t believe how hyper-sensitive we are.
We do know how to do a lot of things people need, especially at church. We can participate in work days and paint and pull weeds and mow and edge. We can set up tables. We can wash dishes. We can take the minutes at board meetings, and people will marvel at how much we can report.
But to say Jesus-shaped spirituality is found in relationships is to run a cold knife of fear right into our guts.
This is not uncommon. Just this year, there’s been a book published about it: Adam McHugh's Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. (I haven’t read it. I’ve thought about reading it, and I probably will.)
It doesn’t mean we avoid relationships. If anything, we hunger for them; we just don’t know quite how to do them. And we notice and sense things far more quickly than the extroverts; that’s why a lot of seem to have similar kinds of gifts in the church, like helps, and encouragement.
But the absence of deep relationships can become normal, except it never feels normal normal. Familiar does not necessarily equate to normal. We know something’s off.
We know something’s truncated or distorted. Something’s missing.
We’re not created for loneliness.
We’re created for that Jesus-shaped spirituality.
Nancy Rosback over at Nance Marie has been leading us in a discussion of Mere Churchianity. Also see Fatha Frank’s posts at Public Christianity and Melo’s posts at Humming Softly.