Huntingville Community Church » Service

By: Huntingville Community Church  09-12-2011
Keywords: Community Church

Huntingville Community Church » Service

Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28; Matthew 7:12; 19:19; 22:34-40; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14***

You cannot be spiritual (live christianly in the world) if you do not serve your neighbour.***

I`d like to present to you an historic alternative to what has become the conventional perception of Protestant spirituality.  Be advised however, that, rooted in the much neglected, sixteenth century, Anabaptist Radical Reform movement (that paralleled the Magisterial Reformation of Luther, Zwingli and Calvin), specifically the Swiss Brethren, Mennonite and Amish expressions of Anabaptism, it is, by all standards, an avant-garde, albeit eminently biblical, option.  ***

The better elements among the Anabaptists represented an effort to recover not just sound doctrine but a more biblical notion of discipleship as well.  These particular Radical`s distinguished themselves from the Magisterial Reformers by their choice to establish a deeper attachment to Jesus and the Gospels than to Paul and his epistles (they did not overlook the latter but they recognized the priority of the former).  They emphasized not only the atoning work of Christ and His role as Saviour, but also His Words and His role as spiritual Guide and Teacher.  Jesus was, for them, not just Redeemer but also Rabbi, and they made a conscious decision to establish the Lord over Paul in the latter position. ***

Consistent with their profound allegiance to Jesus, Anabaptists cultivated a brand of spirituality characterized by radical obedience to the Sermon on the Mount.  This, of course, translated for them (as it must for anyone taking the Sermon seriously) into a dissident lifestyle (living radically Christian in the world) that manifested itself as a set of stubborn ethical commitments placing them at odds with wider society and transforming them into a profoundly counter-cultural movement.  For the Radical Reformers, being a disciple of Jesus meant engaging in a cluster of culturally dissident practices.  David Augsburger describes the Anabaptist stripe of spirituality, both then and since, as “a path worn bare by a particular line of spiritual people – a long thin line of spiritual dissidents that insistently reaches back to Jesus as mentor-originator-file leader for their a-bit-over-the-edge discipleship.” ***

As previously intimated, we have not, by and large, followed the Anabaptist model (and for that matter the Jesus model) where spirituality is concerned.  At some point in the history of Protestantism we lost touch, for all practical purposes, with the Gospels, and losing touch with them we lost sight of Jesus as more than Saviour but also as Rabbi.  Subsequently the ethical dimension of discipleship, of living christianly in the world, withered and spirituality became reduced in the popular understanding to a warm fuzzy self-indulgent thing; an experience that is all, and only, about me and God, period.  And often times more me than God:about my prayer life, and my Bible reading, and my meditation and worship, and the blessings, edification and rapturous shiver bumps, I get from God as I practice those and other spiritual disciplines.  Our spirituality became almost entirely self-focused and inward.   In contrast to the popular notion, the spirituality modeled by Jesus and practiced by the Radical Reformers, had, in addition to a private and mystical dimension, an essential public and ethical dimension; it requires that the inward aspect of personal spirituality be paralleled and complimented (not replaced) by an outward aspect.  ***

Spirituality must certainly involve self (personal discovery as a creature existing before God) and God (an encounter with The Transcendent One) but if it encompasses just these two components it is developmentally delayed or compromised.  Fully developed biblical spirituality involves others along with God and self  (loving, i.e. serving, neighbour because he/she is the face of God to you).   And so, we choose from three options in spirituality: uni-directional spirituality which is confined to self-discovery, bi-directional spirituality that aims to discover both the depth of self and height of God, and tri-directional spirituality which pursues “the journey into the human soul, the quest for communion with the Divine, [and] the commitment to love and serve the neighbour.” Only number three complies with the teaching and example of Jesus.  It is “inwardly directed, upwardly compliant, and outwardly committed.” ***

Tri-directional spirituality, the discipleship model of the Anabaptists who so deeply loved Jesus as both Saviour and Rabbi, and living christianly in the world, requires that: ***

“ love of God transcends and transforms love of self,

love of God and love of neighbour become one,

love of neighbour and love of self become one, and

submission to God and solidarity with neighbour are

indivisible”              ~ Augsburger ~ ***

In large part Protestantism drifted, over the centuries, into an adaptation of the “law ethic of Moses”  which says “Love God by living the Torah,”  while the Anabaptists and tri-directional spirituality, laid hold of the  “love ethic of Jesus” which requires “Love God by loving others, as you love yourself.” ***

And so, I end where I began:

You cannot be spiritual (live christianly in the world) if you do not serve neighbour.


Keywords: Community Church

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