Today, despite the popularity of books by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and the ‘New atheists’, most people believe that there is ‘more than meets the eye’ to life – ‘Something out there’ (or perhaps ’in here’ – a soulful or spiritual part of my own being, which is connected to , but more than, my body).
Many people would identify them themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’. Often Christianity is seen as being ‘religious’ – in other words to do with conformity, judgment, punishment.
On the contrary, Christians are on a spiritual path, not just a religious one as they seek to follow Jesus. In other words, Christianity it is exactly about how we become more connected, more whole, more integrated with ourselves, each other, planet earth and the mysterious greater reality of which we are all part. The spirituality of Jesus is summed up in the Beatitudes:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
It’s also true that self-aware Christians, far from having everything sewn up, continue to look to God for change and development, and the growth in wisdom for living and depth of understanding. Although we are all different spiritual shapes and types (just as we are different in our personalities, tastes, looks and everything else), there are some common ‘broad pathways to growing spiritually.
The Christian practices that help us to grow closer to God are prayer, meditation, reading the Bible, Eucharist (Holy Communion) and belonging to a Christian community. In other words, these things are not ‘religious duties’, but things we do that help us to know and experience God, and to develop a way of living that is kind, compassionate, authentic and truthful.
Many people have found Richard Rohr to be a helpful contemporary spiritual teacher, rooted in Christianity, but with a wide and inclusive take on what it means to be ‘spiritual’ and to be transformed and a transforming presence in the world. His website (Center for Action and Contemplation) can be reached by this link. But most of all, if you are interested in the Christian spiritual path, we would encourage you to come and join an enquirers group (contact the vicar) or to join one of our church communities.