Several years ago, I lived in the Middle East. This was both and joy and a privilege to me, and I can honestly say, I fell in love with the country and the culture. When I came home, I experienced a mild version of something called ‘Reverse Culture Shock’. For me it was like seeing the culture of the U.K for the first time.
Culture is a powerful thing. It permeates everything around us, from how we educate our children, how we dress or even what coffee we choose. The problem is we are so immersed in it, we can’t see it. I liken it to the idea of cooking a live frog. Apparently, If you place it in cold water and heat the water gently, the frog will never jump out. I’m not sure if that is true, but I’m sure you see my point.
As Christians we need to be continually asking for the wisdom of God, (James 1:5) to discern how to live for Christ in this country, time, and the circumstances we find ourselves in. We want to carefully choose who we are listening to, because if we don’t, our values, behaviour and goals in life will be shaped not by Christ, but simply by the loudest, most consistent voices in our current culture.
Many of us grew up with the idea of being Jesus Freaks or a fish swimming against the tide, but has that really worked out? If you were able to step out of your life and come at it from an outsider perspective, what culture would you see?
Since the birth of the Christian church Christians have been asking the same question? How do I live in the world, but not of the world? (John 17:15-16) How do I position myself to be formed or rather reformed by Jesus as a citizen of His Kingdom. Some saw no other way, but to withdraw to solitude or closed communities, others found ways to work out their salvation in the ordinary and the mundane. One thing they had in common was that they chose to be formed by Jesus. They maintained regular habits that held them and brought them back regularly to the right path.
These habits or spiritual practices are sometimes called a Rule of Life. Not a rule as in a law to keep, but a rule as in a ruler. A Rule is something put in place to keep you on a straight path. Like a trellis for a plant to grow up. Habits you may already practice, might be the way you pray in the morning or evening, a small Christian Community you discuss life with, or a way of studying scripture.
We’re going to spend 6 sessions this autumn exploring some habits you may want to incorporate into life to keep you on the right path, and the very first one is the answer to the words you’ve had in your head whilst reading this. They are “I don’t have time for any more things!”
So, the first spiritual practice to weave into our trellis is SLOWing. If ever there has been a culture that needed this one, it’s ours. So get ready, not to do more, but do less.