If “Opening Ourselves to the Holy Spirit,” opens us to the needs of others…. then it follows that the needs of others would be our only agenda.
I go into this little room for some privacy to do stretching… There is one other person in there and she begins to talk about what workout I am doing. And then she asks how am I feeling. And then she asks, I’m not kidding, she asks, just after she told me the benefits of stretching at our age, she asks… “How’s Your Spiritual Life?…Do you ever think about your spiritual life?”
All I wanted to do was stretch my aching quads and hamstrings and back… and so, I said, “I’m a United Methodist pastor, I think about my spiritual life often.”
The woman went into what sounded like a rehearsed speech, something about how she had never smoked or drank or used a bad word and how great she felt. And then she talked about how great it is to serve the Lord each day and every hour. She was about to tell me about the church she was at, when I finished my squats and said, “Nice to meet you; I’ll see you later.”
Ambushing people like this is not what I have in mind when at the end of a sermon I say something about “sharing our faith.” Excluding the thought from Don Prestly that it is a good excuse now not to go to the gym… here are three thoughts I’m inspired by this experience to share.
First…. I do not believe that God needs to force anyone into a relationship… if it feels forced, it probably is forced. If “Opening Ourselves to the Holy Spirit,” opens us to the needs of others…. then it follows that the needs of others would be our only agenda. At the gym it is a bit odd to strike up a conversation about stretching… so why complicate it by bringing Jesus into it…The truth is, the thing I was complaining to God about in that moment was getting this thing they call “the cobra pose” right.
This is not about how many people we invite or have in church. It’s not about correct beliefs… it’s about relationships that are deepened and enriched. The Message of the life of Jesus is that God works in this world in and through relationships. When the Holy Spirit invites us to recognize the needs of others, it also invites us to stand in solidarity with them. The relationship someone out there might need the most right now is the one they share with you…
Finally for today…. The time for sharing something as deep and meaningful as faith is not something you choose. It’s not like you wake up and say today at the gym… “I’m going to do this.” No, the time that is not forced…. the time in which you are needed… that time chooses you. Like the neighbor saying…”I have no idea what to do on Easter Sunday for worship” and you pull out the bottom of the bulletin you tore off and kept in your pocket….
Keep (and share) the Faith,