The term “spiritual activist” came across my path recently, and it immediately struck a chord with me. Right away I thought “this is what I’m seeing pop up in the world today, and it is exactly what is needed.”
In areas from the justice system to business, from health care to education, from care of our environment to the needs of children, the poor, and the elderly, if you look closely you will see people bringing the spiritual down to earth, integrating their faith and vision with the needs of the world, helping to bring wholeness to people and organizations, breaking bondages, and changing the atmosphere around them.
It is almost as if these people are on a mission, a mission to bring love from the invisible realm to the visible. It’s as if they have divine orders to manifest wholeness in their own unique way, to uncover the value in all life, and to bring justice, equality, and freedom.
That doesn’t mean you never get angry – sometimes anger provides the spark for action. Love doesn’t mean you don’t expose people who lie and oppress others – exposing them is sometimes the most loving thing that can be done because it is the only way for change to come about. Love means you don’t do it with malice – you do it so truth can prevail.
I’ve heard it said that we can choose the path of wisdom or we can be forced upon the path of woe. We can be pulled by a vision or pushed by pain. The woe and pain come when we ignore our hearts, when we choose not to listen to the still, small voice calling us to wholeness.
Many people are heeding that call to wholeness, and these are the spiritual activists, the people who author Sue Monk Kidd calls “prophets and mystics”, who feel called to bring healing and wholeness to a particular area of society and use their unique gifts and strengths to do just that.
These are the people who won’t market a product to make a profit if it is harmful to children, but will use their intuition and creativity to produce something better. People who will search for ways to prevent and eradicate disease without causing harm at the same time. People who are truly concerned about the hearts and minds of children, not just showing high test scores. People who care about letting the love of God work through them, not just getting more names on the church roster. People who work to bring about a new system of justice based on an offender restoring what they have taken from their victim and community as much as possible, but also seeking to restore the dignity and worth of the offender and digging for the root causes of crime. People who see the whole picture, not just the little piece that affects them – actually every piece affects all of us, and that is what we need to see. The end does not justify the means; they are the same thing.
I haven’t quite figured out my place as a “spiritual activist”. Each day I try to listen to that still, small voice and go where it leads and bring love – to the children who cross my path, to the nursing home where I visit almost daily, to the young people in our restorative justice circle, to the women with disabilities I work with. I listen to that still, small voice and respectfully, gratefully care for the garden I am privileged to have, hopefully making it better and healthier then it was before I had it. Sometimes I think my place is to bring awareness that there is a different way to live, a way beyond comparison and competition, a way beyond “us” and “them”, a way of compassion, a way that ceases to always look for what’s wrong with people, but that helps them to see what’s right about them.
Lynne McTaggart, author of the book, The Bond, says “we are operating according to an outdated set of rules. . . The competitive impulse that is now a major part of our self-definition and that forms the undercurrent of all our lives is the same mindset that has created every one of the large global crises now threatening to destroy us. If we can recover wholeness in our relationships, in my view, we will begin to heal our world.”
We need to learn a new way of relating to other human beings. When we live our lives authentically, from our hearts, there is no need for jealousy or comparison because we’ve all been given amazing, wonderful, unique gifts. Our biggest frustrations come when we don’t trust who God made us to be and don’t live the lives we were meant to live.
Jesus didn’t come to simply bring comfort (although His presence certainly did that for people who needed it). He came and stirred things up, brought discomfort to those who were caught up in their own self-righteousness, opened prison doors, set captives free, healed people with a touch or a word, showed people their true worth, showed compassion to the hurting, and told us we would do greater things than he. Call it a revival or a revolution – it doesn’t matter – maybe just call it a return to love.