Flourishing Spirituality Devotions Part 7
Spiritual Rhythms – Sharing and Community
by Dr. Siu Fung Wu, Lecturer in New Testament Studies, Whitley College
As an introvert I want to be alone. But at the same time, I have a deep longing for community. I long for communion with fellow followers of Jesus. As a migrant, I have my share of struggles living in Australia—language, sense of belonging, and feeling like an outsider. But the church community is a refuge where I find safety and support. It is also a place where I learn to share my life and resources with others.
Romans 8:14–17 tells us that believers are siblings in Christ. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,” Paul says. And by the Spirit we cry, “Abba, Father.” So, we are siblings in Christ led by the Spirit of God. True spirituality is not only about our relationship with Jesus but also our relationship with one another in the family of God. As we pray and listen to God’s voice, we experience the parenthood of God, an intimacy that is possible only through the Spirit. And through the inspiration and transformation of the Spirit, we also experience sisterhood and brotherhood with one another (8:29).
What does it look like in practice? Paul spells it out in one of the most profound passages in his letters, Romans 12:9–21. Let us reflect on two things here.
First, mutual love and honour. Paul asks believers to love each another in mutual affection, and outdo one another in showing honour (12:10). In Paul’s day, the society was intensely hierarchical. The wealthy despised the poor. The masters never respected the slaves. Roman citizens looked down on the non-Romans. The idea of mutual love and honour was radical, to say the least. Although Australia prides itself with the idea of a “fair go,” the challenge for us is to intentionally practise mutual love and honour. Let us look out for each other, not least in this COVID pandemic time. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (12:15).
Second, hospitality. Paul says in 12:13, “Share with God’s people who are in need. Pursue hospitality.” The Greek word for “share” here is koinōneō, which conveys a strong sense of fellowship and sharing things in common. The word “hospitality” is philoxenia. It stands for “love of strangers.” So, instead of xenophobia—prejudice against strangers/foreigners—we are to love them and actively pursue hospitality. According to Colin Kruse, hospitality may be understood as a process by which an outsider is changed from stranger to guest . A Spirit-led church community will always look for opportunities to provide a safe community for strangers.
The fruit of the Spirit is first and foremost characterised by love (Gal 5:22). True spirituality is always about loving God and neighbours. I am thankful to my network of communities, where members come from all walks of life—young and old, unlearned and educated, the poor and wealthy, those who enjoy good health and those who live with illnesses and disabilities, people from different cultural backgrounds, as well as Indigenous Australians. I have experienced firsthand the hospitality and mutual love shared in these communities. I am sure that the same thing can be experienced in any church community, for it is the Spirit of God who inspires and transforms us. Let us practise the Spiritual rhythms of sharing and communion in community.
- Read Galatians 5:22–23; Romans 8:14–17; Romans 12:9–21, and reflect on the work of the Spirit in our communal life as a family of God.
- Consider whether we tend to think of faith as individuals with a relationship with God, or in terms of people in relationship with God living in communion with siblings in Christ? Or both? What does the Bible say?
- Who are the people in our church community with whom we can rejoice and cry together? Have we neglected them? How do we reach out to them?
- Reflect on how we can practise hospitality and share our lives with strangers as a community?
Grace and peace,
Siu Fung Wu
 Colin Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), 478.
Part 1: Flourishing Spirituality At the Centre
Part 2: Praise and Worship
Part 3: Prayer and Fasting
Part 4: Bible Reading and Study
Part 5: Silence and Solitude
Part 6: Repentance and Confession