Summary: How do we live a life of holiness in the kind of wold in which we must now reside
This morning I would like to talk about how to live spirituality in the real world.
We live in a world of terrorist attacks
– of sexual predators that prey on small children
– of gang violence and drug busts
– of economic hardships, poverty, homelessness, and starvation
– of battered spouses and neglected children
– of wars and rumors of wars
– of homelessness and poverty.
We live in a world of shattered dreams, broken promises, and heart-wrenching grief.
That’s the real world!
But that’s not all there is to the real world.
We also live in a world were many nations have learned to live at peace with one another
– where babies are birthed and children are nurtured
– where neighbors learn to see beyond their differences to find commonality
– where many families are marked by fidelity, honor, love and integrity
– where joy and laughter punctuate the stuff of every day life.
– where it is possible to find joy and know fulfillment.
We live in a world of tremendous beauty, of mountain streams, rolling hills, and vast oceans. We live in a world where even amidst the desert sands you can find an oasis.
This, too, is the real world.
The real world is an enormous place, filled with both good and bad, wonder and dread, potential and despair. If you have lived more than a handful of years, you have experienced all of the above, both the good and the bad. You have known beauty and ugliness, elation and sorrow, possibility and despondency, goodness and grief.
The question is, “How are we to live in such a world?”
It would be a easier if it were not for the apparent cosmic moods swings. If we knew what to expect from the day when we woke up in the morning it would be a lot easier to face that day. If we knew that everyday would be a good day then we’d be ready to receive each day as a gift. If we knew that each new day would be a bad day then we’d be ready to confront those days as well. The problem is that this is not how the world works.
Ask British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On one day he is punching the air with joy as he and all Londoners celebrate their city’s selection to host the 2112 Olympics. The next day his face is more solemn in the wake of London’s terrorist bombings.
So how do we live a life of consistency in a world that seems so inconsistent?
We need to answer that question because the world is and will always be an inconsistent place. That is what I’d like to talk about this morning. I want to talk about a quality of life that separates light from darkness and hope from despair. I want to talk about real world spirituality
Now right off the back I realize that I have to define the word spirituality. In some respects when we hear this word in the church it sounds just a little bit dirty – thanks to the crystal gazers, the Hollywood Scientologist, and the new age gurus. I propose that we redeem this word and understand it from a biblical perspective. Spirituality is not gushing sentimentality. Spirituality is not pink-cheeked piety. Spirituality is not a warm fuzzy or some sort of escape hatch designed to remove us from reality.
What is spirituality? Let’s take our cues from the Apostle Paul!
Spirituality is LIFE IN THE SPIRIT. And by the “Spirit” we don’t mean some nebulous expressions of positive thought patterns or some impersonal force that we call “the universe.” By Spirit we mean Holy Spirit. We mean one expression of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Spirituality means living by faith in the Holy Spirit of God to be our source and supply for living. We do not live by “the flesh” – independent, self-assured, fulfilling our wants, whims, and desires. We live dependent on God, trusting God – no matter what the REAL WORLD throws at us!
If the real world throws some blessing (a good home, a nice job, a loving family, good health, financial well-being, etc., etc., etc.), we don’t live from those blessing – we live dependent on God as our source and supply.
If the real world throws us a curve ball (no job, poor health, financial stress, sickness, sorrow, suffering and death), we STILL live our lives dependent on God as our source and supply.
The reality is that the real world is filled with things we might consider to be both GOOD and BAD, blessings and catastrophe, - and if you live long enough, you’re going to experience a bit of all of it. The path to the victorious living is NOT to allow the circumstances to determine how we live – but to allow our relationship with God to determine how we live. That’s living by the Spirit – the Holy Spirit. That’s real world spirituality.