Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

A little while ago, I was at church, and we were having communion.  After I received communion, I returned to my seat and observed the others still waiting in line.  One husband stood behind his wife and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze.  A young daughter put her arms around her mother’s waist as they inched forward.  The individuals serving communion looked warmly at each person who came up.  And the ushers, a very kind couple, guided everyone in the congregation and then waited until the end to be served.  As I watched, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  I felt so blessed to be part of this larger group of people, my spiritual family.

We all have biological families.  We also may have extended families from marriage.  Some of those relationships are a blessing, and some of them are a burden.  We all have some family members with whom we would gladly spend our time.  Then there are those who we see only out of obligation.  We may share some beliefs and interests with our family members, or we may have zero common ground.

A spiritual family, however, is different.  When a spiritual family meets, we come together voluntarily.  The common denominator between its members isn’t DNA or looks or brains or affluence.  Rather, a spiritual community comes together based on a common belief in a higher power.  When we meet, we collectively think about ways that we can make the world a better place.  Once we find a spiritual family, these are the people with whom we will choose to spend some amount of time each week.

Today there are many people who forgo having a spiritual family.  They are what I call “spiritual loners.”  I was one for over a decade.  I read the Bible and Christian inspiration books on a daily basis.  I prayed and tried my best to serve others.  However, I wasn’t part of a spiritual community.  I can tell you that there is something very hollow about that approach.

In the book of Hebrews, the author points to the main reason why being part of a spiritual community is so important.

”And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

When we are part of a spiritual community, we are encouraged to be better people.  If I join my local church or synagogue, I likely will have the opportunity to help with a food drive.  If I go to a Sunday morning service, I probably will hear a sermon about being more forgiving or less self-centered.   And I may meet people whose example inspires me to be a better wife, mother and friend.

Being involved in a spiritual community also typically puts us in contact with people who are just a little bit gentler.  We live in a world where folks can be pretty harsh.  There are lots of people out there who would rather say something derogatory than pay a compliment.  And there are many who have deluded themselves into thinking that their achievements give them the right to be arrogant or smug.  It is enough to make anyone want to crawl under a rock and hide.

But in a good spiritual community, we encourage each other to be more loving.  We build each other up and appreciate each other’s contributions.  We don’t look for places to criticize, but rather we look for ways to praise each other.  We realize that anything that we’ve achieved is a gift from God, and that leads us to be more humble.

Now, of course, no spiritual family is perfect.  When human beings come together, we do some things well, and we fall short in other areas.  We are fallible creatures.  But overall, when we come together for the purpose of acknowledging that there is a higher power, and when we collectively think about how we can serve the world, something very special happens.  Our desire to work toward “love and good deeds” comes alive.

If you don’t have a spiritual community, consider looking for one.  My hope is that if you find the right one, it will be as great a blessing in your life as it has been in mine.

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