Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that “spiritual development” has less and less to do with religion. And while the Church, the Bible and the liturgy are important to our development, spiritual formation is more about learning to discern the call of God “outside,” in our everyday lives. Spiritual Formation is an ongoing dynamic process in which we develop the “tools” to be able to see and align ourselves with people, places and things in which God is at work. I know this might sound like heresy but in some ways religion can become a static process that lulls us to sleep in its repetitive sameness. As such, it can become an “obstacle” to our call to “bear witness” to God’s Word to those outside the upper room. In a real sense we are preaching to the choir! We in the comfort and security of our Church community, are like the apostles in the upper room after the Crucifixion. When Jesus appeared to the apostles and Thomas he said “... As the Father has sent me, so I send you," he beckons us as he did his disciples to leave the upper room and live our lives outside the walls of our Church as we engage in Christian practices that are fundamental to human needs, and may have nothing to do with religion but everything to do with faith. As such, we join with one another, and with Jesus, and with the communion of saints across time and space in a way of life that proclaims Christ’s victory over death and our eternal life. (Luke 24:13-35)
Now in “bearing witness” to the Word, I'm not talking about "life-style evangelism." That term for many of us, may evoke discomfort and have a strange connotation. We bear witness to the great movies or television programs we've seen and want others to enjoy. We bear witness to the accomplishments (or failures) of our sports teams. We bear witness to the important events in our family or work lives. We bear witness -- that is, tell someone about -- the things that matter to us all the time. We bear witness to feelings of joy, sadness and despair. We share life, our lives, with each other. No, I mean we bear witness to the presence of God, the Love, in all things in the here and now all the time.
Witnessing is not really all that different when it comes to faith. It does not mean shoving our beliefs down someone's throat or threatening them with eternal hellfire if they don't believe as we do. The ego tries to convince, while love shares. To witness is simply communicating with others where we sense God’s presence -- at home or work, at church or school, or in a stranger or a friend, a doctor or teacher or neighbor, or even in a tragedy. Bearing witness is nothing more than proclaiming God’s presence in our life and in our behavior as the Word becomes flesh in us and those we encounter as we live his Word… by Him and with Him and in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit.