Messy Spirituality

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by underscoretim, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. underscoretim

    underscoretim
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    Excerpted from Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli.
    Someone gave me this article and i was wondering what you guys thought of it...

    My life is a mess.
    I want desperately to know God better. I want to be consistent. Right now the only consistency in my life is my inconsistency. Who I want to be and who I am are not very close together. I am not doing well living-a-consistent-life thing.
    When I was younger, I believed my inconsistency was due to my youth. I believed that age would teach me all I needed to know and that when I was older I would have learned the lessons of life and discovered the secrets of true spirituality.
    I am older, a lot older, and the secrets of life are still secret from me.
    Is there a spirituality for the rest of us who are not secluded in a monastery, who don’t have it all together and probably never will?
    The answer is yes!
    What landed Jesus on the cross was the preposterous idea that common,. ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be Godly! <lj-cut>What drove Jesus’ enemies crazy were his criticism of the “perfect” religious people and his acceptance of the imperfect non-religious people. The shocking implication of Jesus’ ministry is that anyone can be spiritual.
    Scandalous? Maybe.
    Maybe truth is scandalous. Maybe the scandal is that all of us are in some condition of not-togetherness, even those of us who are trying to be Godly. Maybe we’re all a mess, not only sinful messy, but inconsistent messy, up and down messy, in and out messy, now I believe now I don’t messy, I get it now I don’t get it messy, I understand....uh.....now I don’t understand messy.
    I admit, messy spirituality sounds...well...unspiritual.
    Surely there are guidelines to follow, principals to live by, maps to show us where to go, and secrets we can uncover to find a spirituality that is clean and tidy.
    I’m afraid not.
    Spirituality is not a formula; its not a test. It’s a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of out lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.
    Look at the Bible. Its pages overflow with messy people. The biblical writers did not edit out the flaws of its heroes. Like Noah, for example. Everyone thought he was crazy. He certainly was a little strange, but Noah was also courageous, a man of great faith and strong will. Against the backdrop of unrelenting ridicule, Noah built a huge ark in the middle of the desert because God told him it was going to rain. No one believed him, but the rains did come and the flood happened, after the water receded Noah triumphantly left the boat, got drunk, and got naked.
    What? Drunk and naked? I don’t recall any of my bible teachers or pastors talking about Noah’s...uh...moment of indiscretion...er...weakness...um...failure. The Noah I ‘ve always heard about was feircly faithful, and irrepressibly independent, and relentlessly resolute. Noah was the model of great faith. Very few ever refer to Noah’s losing battle with wine. Maybe being very strong and faithful has its downside. Maybe for flood survivors life is more complicated than we would like to think, and maybe even Noah could have bouts of depression and loneliness.
    Why should I be surprised? Turns out all of the Biblical characters were a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. David, Abraham, Lot, Saul, Solomon, Rahab, and Sarah were God loving, courageous, brilliant, fearless, loyal, passionate, committed holy men and women who were also murders, adulterers, and manic-depressives.
    The new testament characters weren’t much better. Look who Jesus hung out with. Prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, penniless riffraff, and losers of all kinds. His disciples were hardly models of saintliness. They were committed to Jesus, were ready to follow him anywhere (with one notable exception), but they were also troubled by infighting, always jockeying for position, suspicious of each other, accusatory, impulsive, selfish, lazy, and disloyal.
    One very clear example of the messiness of the disciples took place in a tiny Samaritan village. On they’re way to Jerusalem, Jesus and the disciples stopped in this village for the evening. The Samaritans, however, weren’t in a mood to cooperate. Most Jews didn’t give Samaritans the time of day, so the Samaritans decided to return the favor by making it clear that Jesus and his disciples weren’t welcome in their town. James and John (this would be the beloved disciple John) were furious, storming up to Jesus with the very undisciple like question, “God do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” Not exactly an example of mature, unmessy discipleship.
    Messy spirituality unveils the myth of flawlessness and calls Christians everywhere to come out of hiding and stop pretending.
    Messy spirituality has the audacity to suggest that messiness is the workshop of authentic spirituality, the greenhouse of faith, the place where the Real Jesus meets the real us.
    Sounds like you and I are in good company. </lj-cut>
     
  2. Marcia

    Marcia
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    He makes some good points, but like McLaren and others, is overreacting to what I believe may be a legalistic past.

    This is my beef with Yaconelli (who died a year or so ago, btw, just fyi), he introduced a lot of postmodern stuff to youth via Youth Specialties. And he introduced what I consider to be unbiblical practices from the Catholic mystics, like Contemplative Prayer (which is neither true contemplation nor prayer), lectio divina, and labyrinths. His introduction of these practices has grown and this has been spreading in youth ministries.

    My article on Contemplative Prayer is at:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_ContemplativePrayer1.html
     
  3. rbell

    rbell
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    Yakko had some meat in his thoughts...there were sometimes quite a few bones to spit out. Sometimes it was worth it, other times not so much.

    All IMHO of course.

    I always thought he was at his best when he was reminding youth ministers that our job was to raise up--not followers of our church leadership, denomination, or socio-economic class--but followers of Jesus Christ.

    I also love his suggestion to many graduating seniors to take a year and go do missions somewhere--THEN follow your "life's calling." It might look different if that is done.

    But, there were those bones I had to spit out as well...
     

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