What Would Jesus Blog?

Yoga

by on Mar.20, 2009, under Uncategorized

So, there’s a large group here at Cliff for a Yoga retreat weekend, involving lots of contortion and non-Christian spiritual endeavour (plus the sale of Buddhist and Hindu CDs and bong-like contraptions….) and it’s caused some great debates over the dinner table!

One side feel that having groups coming to Cliff to engage in non-Christian spiritual activity is wrong – that Cliff is a holy place (holy = set aside for God), and that the only worship that occurs here should be Christian. We make regular exceptions for Jewish groups, we might do the same for Muslim groups as our religions are related, but Hinduism and Buddhist spirituality is a long way removed from that of the Abrahamic faiths. This side of the argument feel that Cliff should have turned the group away, politely explaining that what they would be doing here didn’t fit with our views on spirituality and that they should find another venue. They feel that the very holy and Christian spiritual space that is Cliff has been invaded – not that they can’t worship God anywhere or that God needs special places to work, but that there should be places that are set aside for God and worship of him in a Christian way.

It’s worth noting that this group take yoga seriously – it’s not just a form of exercise but it is a spiritual endeavour for them.

The other side of the debate take a variety of views – from knowing that Cliff needs the money and that a chance to take money from the hands of heretics and put it to God’s purposes is one that can’t be missed to arguing that Cliff should welcome everyone with open arms and show them Christian hospitality and the Christian lifestyle so that they can see the Gospel lived out properly.

Ultimately it’s a question of God’s mission – faced with a decision to make, how can Cliff best follow God’s purposes for this world? Jesus had no problem with kicking the dishonest money-lenders out of the temple because it’s God’s house but even at his last supper he dined with someone who he knew was going to betray him. As Christians we have a duty to protect the holy things from contamination but at the same time ask ourselves how we can tell people who aren’t Christians the good news of Christ.

So what do I think? Welcome them with open arms, let them use whatever they want to, pray for them, pray over the areas after they’ve left to get rid of any spiritual nasties but crucially talk to them and interact with them and show them God’s love. I’d rather we had a neutral space that we could just rent out without it necessarily being a spiritual issue – having them yoga where we worship brings it a bit to close for comfort….

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7 comments for this entry:
  1. Ian

    I hope God can use us to really show Him to them.

    I think the conference centre can be a great opportunity for us to evangelise through serving the clients who come in. I see no real difference between letting the Jewish groups use the facility and the Yoga group. I could take issue with the Jewish group using the chapel, but I don’t want to cause a hassle over it.

    I suppose the conference centre creates a context where we can really serve in a unique way. Lets agree to have faith that God’s power is greater than whatever supposed power Yoga summons/channels.

    Peace.

  2. lydimoo

    it seems that you are coming at this from the assumption that other relgions have nothing to do with God. Is this right?

  3. admin

    I think I make it quite clear that there is a distinction in my mind between those religions whose life is centered around the God that created the universe and those whose spirituality is far removed from God. Does that answer your question?

  4. Lorna

    interesting :)

    I don’t like this attitude one bit “knowing that Cliff needs the money and that a chance to take money from the hands of heretics and put it to God’s purposes is one that can’t be missed ”

    I mean where would you draw the line? Can we really put profit before what’s right?

    Your second part is more crucial

    “Cliff should welcome everyone with open arms and show them Christian hospitality and the Christian lifestyle so that they can see the Gospel lived out properly”

    That is being missional

    But for it to work it would involve the students and staff being willing to engage with them, listen to their stories and being prepared to share their own! Were such contacts made? Were students and staff encouraged to be missional – to find out what the yoga was all about (and even join in)? I think the heart of the problem is the “them and us” attitude and until we can start to see people (of other faiths) through God’s eyes I think we won’t make much progress.

    but of course that’s only MY opinion :)

    xx

  5. John Cooper

    I would simply ask – is it the people or the building that makes it a place worshipping god? If it is the people why does it matter what occurs when you’re not there?

    I’ll be honest, its an overly simple question but a good starter for ten!

    With Regards

    John

  6. admin

    I think that is an overly simple question – but I’ll attempt an overly simple answer.

    At its heart, yes of course it is the people of God who are the Church and that’s borne out in the (generally good) way things seem to be going – more people meeting outside of church buildings, less reliance on structures and so on. I think that as a church we are too dependent on buildings for our identity and our security – things that should come from God.

    However, there was a definite sense of invasion. To be holy means to be set apart for God, and therefore if we are going to have spaces that we dedicate to being holy whether we are in them or not, we need to consider how we allow them to be used. If Cliff Hall was a neutral space that we rented, then it would be different – the place would be holy because for that time it would be claimed for God. The fact is that Cliff Hall is a central part of the life of the Cliff College community and therefore what happens when we’re not in there in some way affects the community. It’s like saying that my actions when I’m not at Cliff don’t impact on the community there because I’m not with them at the time.

    A couple of closing notes though – firstly, I’m aware that I’ve phrased things in a way that make holiness sound like just another attribute, like colour or texture. I know it’s not but that’s the way my mind works! Secondly, I think that spiritual warfare is something that we discount at our peril – not that we should get over-protective or draw away from society because there are bad things there, but that we should be aware that there’s a spiritual aspect to existence that’s not always of God.

  7. John Cooper

    Spiritual Warfare? Where do you get the idea that the Yoga Class is some act of spiritual warfare?

    With Regards

    John

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