Simeon Stylites went to great lengths to connect with God. The fourth-century Christian spent thirty years on the top of a column sixty feet high and three feet in diameter. His perch had a safety bar to protect him from falling off and he tied a rope to himself for added protection. Friends brought food and removed waste. Simeon Stylites operated on the withdraw principle: get away from society, remove distractions, and pursue unobstructed communion with God. The Simeon system of spiritual growth is crazy! However, maybe we are more like Simeon than we care to admit. How many times do we feel that we need to “get away” to experience transformation? I’m not knocking solitude. Retreat is absolutely necessary at times, but is seclusion God’s primary modus operandi for spiritual growth? I do not believe it is. Take a look at the way Jesus entered the world; I think it gives us a clue as to how he wants to change ours.
In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. (John 1:1,14 NLT)
Eugene Peterson paraphrases this passage as follows: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” When Jesus moved into the neighborhood he made every place a site for divine encounter and spiritual transformation.
I love solitude, but I don’t want to spend thirty years on a pole. I am a husband, a father, a coach, and a pastor. I have a marriage to grow, a family to nurture, a house to maintain, and a church to serve. I have kids who need to be loved, and bills that need to be paid. Getting away is a luxury.
I think that is why Jesus moved into our neighborhood. He wants to transform us in the midst of snotty-nose kids and dirty diapers, through 14-hour days and tight financial times; and at basketball games and family get-togethers. When Jesus entered the neighborhood, God made it very clear that we don’t have to be sixty feet up or even six rows back on Sunday. Spiritual transformation is not just a Sunday thing—it is a daily thing!
FOCAL POINT: Look at every experience as an opportunity to see God at work. Ask him to help you see his divine work in the neighborhood of your daily affairs.
Copyright © 2010 Tommy Kiedis