One of the most recent books that I've read is Simple Spirituality by Christopher Heuertz. Heurtz is the International Director of Word Made Flesh, which is a community who ministers to the poorest of the poor around the world. I really looked forward reading this book as Andrea went with WMF to India and I have had friends serving in India, Brazil, Peru, Romania, and Sierra Leonne through WMF. The book did not disappoint as I have read it twice in recent weeks.
The books is organized by WMF's five Lifestyle Celebrations; Humility, Community, Simplicity, Submission, and Brokeness. As Heuertz writes in the introduction, "As I pray for the grace to live into a spirituality that embodies these simple commitments, I invite you to join me." These Lifestyle Celebrations are central to WMF and their commitments and mission to serve the poorest of the poor. It would do good to do a quick synopsis of each from the book
"Humility affirms our need for God." Heuertz goes on to write, "Humility is not a means to an end. Rather humility is the door through which we must enter to be welcomed into God's presence." How often do we allow pride to get into our way of seeing God and seeing our desperate need for God. The only remedy for our pride is humility that bows before God.
Community is that which provides orientation and clarification for our identity. Our identity is not found in what we do or what we own- our identity is found in community with God and with others. The book challenged me to be willing to step into other people's community rather than expecting them to come into mine...to try to view the world through a different lens.
Here in the Western world, much of our value and worth is ascribed by our paycheck, possessions and neighborhood. When we live simply, we live without extravagence and with an eye and heart to our neighbors. Heuertz writes, "We want to make the issue about what we give, but in truth the issue is about what we keep." Are we engaged in a lifestyle that frees us to give? Or are we trapped in a cycle where we strive to accumulate more and more possessions?
"Submission is giving up oneself to the power of another." When we submit to God, we give up our desires and wishes and allow God's desires and plans to shape us. Submission is realizes that our lives are not our own- our lives belong to God and that we must seek each day to submit our lives to God.
"Brokenness is different- a voluntary surrender to God's will over our own will...brokenness is open even to the grace in pain." Brokenness is proactive rather than reactive.
Certainly the review above could be more in depth. But you'll just have to read the book in order to get more. This was just to whet your appetite.
Heuertz does a great job of weaving personal experience to convey the points that he is making. Some of the stories are light hearted while many of them are a gut wrenching reminder of how the majority world lives.
One critique, and I don't know if it is a major one. Heuertz speaks a lot of seeing Jesus in the poor. That is certainly true, but it is not the only place where we can see Jesus. Each of us is made in the image of God, and thus we can see God work in and through us in the way we live our lives. Heuertz's emphasis on this certainly ties in with WMF's mission to reach the poorest of the poor. It's not major...there is another side to where we see God in our world today. The poor may be our most visible reminder, though.
I'm interested in your thoughts...have you read the book? What's your take?