“What’s yours is mine and what’s mine’s my own!” Social media thrives on ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’, but we can become paradoxically possessive about what is shared and unreasonably intransient about what we don’t like. Take, for example, mindfulness. Some see this as an appropriation of Buddhist meditation. Some Christians see mindfulness (and meditation) as something ‘dodgy’ and not to be entertained. Yet most faiths, including Christianity, have a mystic element; it’s the extent to which it is mainstream which differs. Christian mysticism goes back to the desert fathers and mothers who withdrew to the Egyptian deserts to live as hermits around the third century, but it was particularly strong in Medieval times. There are various forms of Christian mysticism and I don’t intend to go into them here, but I referred to one in my blog the other day when I mentioned Ignatian spirituality.
Instead of claiming something as ‘ours’ or something else as ‘other’, surely we should be seeing signs of hope in finding common ground. It enables us ‘to speak the language’ as it were. Someone who practises mindfulness for reasons of wellbeing rather than to connect with God might nevertheless be led to explore that aspect. As Christians we’re called to share the love of God through Jesus, and the last thing we want is for people not to like our message before they’ve even heard it because they’ve already witnessed behaviour which belies the message. St Paul is our example here, able as he was to link what he had to say to the context in which he found himself:
“To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9: 21-23 – New Revised Standard Version)
“From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; as someone has said, ‘In him we live and move and exist.’ It is as some of your poets have said, ‘We too are his children.’” (Acts 17:26-28 – Good News Translation)