“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-162
This month I want to share with you an excerpt from a little devotional book, “Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen” by Charles Ringma. I find the insights in this book to be both an encouragement and a challenge.
Work and Faith:
Solitude Knows the Cry of the World
Personal spirituality is not achieved individualistically and is not simply a quest for self-improvement.
Spirituality can only fully develop when we include others and serve our neighbor. A spirituality that only knows “holy isolation” is most probably an illusion, and a spirituality that fails to serve others is more than likely self-indulgent.
True spirituality knows both the place of solitude and the cry of the world. It is concerned about self-development but sees it occurring much more through serving another than through pampering the self.
Because true spirituality so fully turns its face toward the world, it needs to be sustained in a community of faith. If we face the cry of the world by ourselves, we will certainly become overwhelmed.
This, of course, does not mean that the community of faith is always successful in its response to the world. Nouwen writes, “As a community of faith we work hard, but we are not destroyed by the lack of results.” The reason the community of faith is not destroyed is that we can exist in no other way. For such is the nature of true spirituality.
“True spirituality knows both the place of solitude and the cry of the world.” Our perfect example of true spirituality, Jesus Christ, knew both times of deep prayer and solitude and times of loving service to both friend and foe.
The church is called the “body of Christ” and as such it is imperative that we follow Christ’s example. I think sometimes we become so involved in the “doing” that we forget about the “being.” I also think that sometimes we can become so internally focused on what’s best for “us “that we fail to see and respond to the needs of others. When we find the right balance of solitude and service we more truly reflect the image of Christ in our world. Ina world filled with images of hate, prejudice, intolerance, and division, I can think of no more beautiful image for us to reflect!
Forever Singing His Praise,