Smoking to the Glory of God

This evening’s article comes from Jason Clark. Founding Pastor of Vinyard Church in Sutton UK.  He is currently working on a second doctorate (P.hD) at Kings College London.  He blogs at Deep Church

I am not quite sure how Jason had time to write this as his family is struggling with swine flu.

…why do most people experience God outside church in the world, whilst Christians see only prayer, bible study, and going to church as spiritual practices, for knowing and experiencing the death and resurrection of Jesus?

It was a good question for me, in that it bothered me and got me thinking.  In particular, how tragic it is if the bible, church and prayer become self referencing static mediators of the gospel, with no connection to the real world.  But also, how equally tragic and a measure of gospel paucity, if spiritual practices, are about experiences of God in the world, with no framing by the canonical-linguistic grammar of the gospel, prayer, and Christian community.  Both are as bad as each other, or perhaps at least lead to a question, what are the nature of spiritual practices, and how are they connected to the world, and church, and scripture?

Otherwise without some understanding of that, it’s easy to accept the opening premise at face value as fact, and in response as a Christian to reach for what I do in the world as ‘a spiritual practice’. That is to respond by listing what I do in the world, outside of the bible , prayer, and church, as where I meet God.  It’s to locate spiritual practices on those terms, and that’s something I’m uncomfortable with.  Just as I am uncomfortable with collapsing ‘spiritual practices’ into bible study, prayer and going to church.

I can easily reach for how having turned 40 years old this year, I became a cliche, and I decided to get a motor bike.  I can describe how the training process in the UK, with four separate tests and requisite training, have been forming me as a biker.  How I for the first time have a hobby away from my work, and the pressures of Church community.  How a ride through the english pastoral countryside, clears my mind, connects me to creation, and how close to God I feel compared to going to Church.  And if I were to imagine that Christians who see spiritual practices as solely the domain of prayer, bible and going to church, were to ask me, how can you ride a motorbike as a spiritual practice, my reply might be like that of Charles Spurgeon, when asked how could he smoke cigars?  That I do it to the glory of God.  Read the entire article


2 Responses

  1. […] on ‘What is a Spiritual Practice?’, with over 30 bloggers from around the world (I wrotethis piece in that series), Christine Sine is running a new Advent […]

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