Which of the following describes a human being? Exoskeleton or endoskeleton? An exoskeleton is held together by a hard external shell (like a crustacean), while an endoskeleton maintains its shape by an internal support structure (hidden bones). Human beings are obviously endoskeletons, hard bones wrapped with touchable skin. I have wondered before if the anatomy of an endoskeleton is the way we should understand mature spiritual character. I think it is. The people that most impact us are people with an approachable demeanor draped over a deeply principled core. They are graciously loving and rigidly principled. At least, those are the kind of people that have most impacted me.
This is the idea of spiritual maturity, the way our character becomes shaped over time by engagement with, and obedience to, the way of Jesus. And what is fascinating to me is how this shaping brings out more of our intended humanity, not less. Over time we become more the endoskeletons we were meant to be: more gracious and approachable, more principled and determined to live for truth and reality. In other words, we escape devolution into spiritual jelly fish (all softness, no principle), and spiritual crustaceans (wearing our principled life on the outside like a weapon).
Perhaps I could say it this way: any spirituality that is worthy of Jesus and his way must be a spirituality that understands the power of an inside-out life. Perhaps you would do well to read through and meditate on the teaching of Jesus in his “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), a teaching that promotes real courageous moral action but in a way that does not draw attention to itself. As an example, consider what Jesus has to say about selfless giving in Matthew 6:1ff: we give because it is right to give, but we we do so in a hidden way. We give because it is one of the bones of our spiritual character. We give because we are not jelly fish.
What we have to be after is the inside-out life. We are called to combine touch-ability and moral strength, a truly Jesus-like life, and a truly human shape.
We hope to see you this Sunday at 9:29 or 11:11 am.