In-Sight: The Hidden Spiritual Life

I recently read a meditation written by Henri Nouwen that reminded me of “the hidden life of Jesus.”  I still find it remarkable that Jesus spent 30 or his 33 years in obscurity, most likely working as a carpenter in his home town of Nazareth.

And when he did launch his public ministry, much of it still remained “out of sight” (see Luke 5:15-16).  Unlike other religious leaders of his day, Jesus shunned the spotlight, being as content to serve in out-of-the-way places as he was to walk the streets of Jerusalem—perhaps more so.

In terms of virtue there’s nothing better about “small,” but in terms of spiritual formation, there is something very important about it.  It is in the hidden places and in the simple acts where the soul is liberated from egotism.  There is a crucial difference between “showing off” and “showing forth.”

Paul picked up on this idea when he wrote to the Colossians, “Your life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:3).  The path that leads out-of-the-way, helps keep the ego from getting in the way.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to In-Sight: The Hidden Spiritual Life

  1. It seems that the hidden spiritual life will “show forth” on its own. I’m thinking through Jesus’ ministry being “out of sight”… and I would agree that much of it was out of the sight of others…. the woman at the well, being just one example. Jesus didn’t seek a crowd to gather before he ministered to her and taught her, he just met her where she was….. Her response was to go forth and witness abundantly. Jesus had no need to call attention to himself. He was secure in who he was, what his mission was, whose he was. He took time to get away and pray. He hung out with a group of folks that let him shape their lives as they journeyed together. Even when in the midst of a crowd, it wasn’t Jesus bringing attention to self, but just the essence of who he was that brought the attention. And, he handled that attention with integrity. Oh, to go forth in these footsteps. Lots to chew on.

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