I did have some serious reflections from men’s camp on the weekend that I thought were worth formulating into some sort of post – but it’s probably a bigger deal than just a “men’s camp reflection”. A while back I wrote about praying in church – I promised at that stage that I’d have a go at more “sacred cows”… and when it comes to Evangelical Christianity I don’t think there’s anything more sacred than the Quiet Time. And I don’t know why.
There are reasons. Good reasons, at least I think they are. So here we go.
- Quiet Times feel too much like “self development” to me – they’re, by their very nature – self focused. They don’t, in and of themselves, serve others. They primarily serve the doer. I understand the argument that disciplined time spent in God’s word and in prayer will help you love and serve others more – I just think that given the choice – I would always choose to spend my quiet time with someone else – either a fellow Christian for encouragement, or a non-Christian proclaiming Christ – what good reason is there to spend time by yourself?
- I’m naturally an extrovert – I find other people stimulating, I learn through engaging in conversation, I do my best thinking while talking. I don’t think I’m unique. So for me, and this is where men’s camp comes in, wandering off into tranquil open spaces does nothing for me. I sit there resenting the fact that I can’t chew over the material with somebody, and if I’ve got a notepad I make angry notes about the fact that I don’t think this “self reflection” time is spiritually valuable.
- The Biblical model of Christian life is communal. It’s relational. That’s the model of ministry demonstrated by Jesus, and then by the Apostles and the leaders of the early church. Why is our focus on the individual? I’d say that’s cultural rather than Biblical – and is a child of a self-focused personal development philosophy. I might be wrong. But I’ll need some convincing.
- While knowing the Bible and prayer are important – doing both is not consistent with any Biblical passages I can find – even when Jesus wanted to escape the crowds for some “solitude” he took his disciples with him in most cases. Not, I acknowledge, in the Garden of Gethsemane – but even then he had his closest friends nearby. Can anybody point me to anything that encourages disciplined “personal devotion”? I haven’t found anything yet that suggests my theory is flawed. But again, I’m open to discussion on this point.
- I can see a place for solitude as “rest” from other people. But again, I would see this as an allowable exception rather than the general rule.
What do you think?