Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spiritual Hiccups - Being

We live in a world that values production and efficiency, that honors those who can "get things done." We size people up by what they do. It's the first thing we ask when we meet someone, "So, what do you do?" My religious traditions speaks of all people having a calling, something they are gifted for and meant to do, so clearly we think doing is important. But does our society's focus on doing have a downside?

I arrived at this question after reading Matthew's account of Jesus being anointed with costly ointment by an unnamed woman. The disciples object to this waste, thinking it could have been sold and the money used to help the poor. But Jesus cuts them off and praises the woman.

For some reason, I immediately remembered Marva Dawn's book on worship, A Royal "Waste" of Time, which contains the subtitle The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World. Being Church, a waste of time; Dawn doesn't seem to worry too much about getting anything of "value" done in worship. She makes light of something my denomination has in droves, special Sundays that deal with some issue. We have Theological Education Sunday, Higher Education Sunday, Domestic Violence Awareness Sunday, Race Relations Sunday, Health Awareness Sunday, and many more. There's not a thing wrong with the motivation for any of these Sundays any more than it was wrong for the disciples to be concerned about the plight of the poor. But - I agree with Dawn here - worship is us being with and praising God. It doesn't need to accomplish something.

I we can speak in similar fashion about our spiritual lives. There's a great deal of interest in spirituality in our culture, both in and out of churches. And sometimes I think this hunger is brought on, in large part, because we are so defined by our doing that we don't know who we are. We don't value being enough to connect with our true selves.

Jesus did incredible things, so he was a doer. But all his doing grew out of his being. Jesus spent countless hours in meditation, in prayer, in fasting, and in time alone with God. It was there that he honed his identity. And it was there that he was nourished and equipped for what he was called to do.

Who are you? Not "What do you do?" but "Who are you?"

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