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Take a Spiritual Holiday

Take a Spiritual Holiday September 24, 2015

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This week, I had an unusual conversation with an old friend. We had met over coffee to talk about some concerns he had over something he had read, about the writer’s theological direction, and about how that would affect his community. None of this is the unusual part – I have conversations like this often. Living in a pluralist world as we do, and working in it so intimately and intensely at Patheos, theological wrestling and wrangling goes with the territory.

But then the conversation took a turn, and we moved into talking about our shared beliefs, our shared experiences in faith, our shared love for Christ. And it was all about Jesus—his story, his pervasive influence in the world and in our lives, his love for us, his power to change lives. The Lord Jesus did this, and he did that; you can see him here, and there; we have been blessed by him in this way, and in that.

An hour later, we both went on our ways, and yet some unexpected freshness lingers from that conversation. I realized that I rarely have these kinds of conversations. Most speechifying about Jesus comes to me (or from me) in the form of teaching, sermons, devotional writing, or tussling and even sometimes brawling over doctrinal nuances. (Certain conversations about Calvinism come to mind.) Most of this content is meant to be persuasive, to one degree or another. All good, but full of effort and sometimes exhausting.

There was no persuasion going on in this short conversation. No rhetoric for the sake of the argument; no argument at all. Just talking lovingly about One we both love. How weird is that.

But I felt as though I’d gone on a short spiritual holiday, a reprieve from the constant posture of debating a point and on to a place of restful delight.

Here’s how you can take a holiday too: Meet with someone you know well, someone who shares a love for Christ, and just talk about Jesus for an hour—how you experience him, how you remember his story, how you have seen him at work in the world, how you long for him.

As with any holiday, there are some things you should not do. Do not deviate into any of the following: evangelism, apologetics, doctrinal disputing, persuasion, criticism, etc. Do not meet with someone you’re secretly hoping to convince of anything. Do not meet with an unbeliever that you hope to lead to Christ. Do not parse a sermon or pick apart the latest book or, God forbid, bring in politics—church or national. Do not quote someone else’s really wonderful words about Jesus. Do not worry about whether this person shares your evangelical or progressive or Catholic or liberal or conservative postures about anything. If that person believes that Jesus is Lord, that is enough for this exercise.

Just talk about Jesus for an hour, and then go your way. I think you will find his presence lingering with you, like the sweet memory of a really restful holiday.

 

Photo by Charles Knowles, Flickr C.C.


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