Why a University Practice?
The University Practice is an integral part to your spiritual formation as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is not limited to one single activity, but rather, we have a responsibility to continue to practice discipleship in our daily lives. The University Spiritual Practice is one way we can encourage each other in our lives as disciples. Discipleship involves practice and with it we are better equipped to live the life to which Christ has called us. When we commit to healthy spiritual patterns, both individually and in community, we prepare ourselves to be ready for God’s work in and through us.
Each year at APU, we choose a spiritual practice(s) to focus on for the year—a practice rooted in the themes of Scripture and utilized for centuries by the Christian church to foster relationship with God. By focusing on a particular Spiritual Practice(s) each year, we expose students to diverse practices that foster spiritual growth which leads to maturity. Practices such as prayer, scripture study¸ worship, service and witnessing are just a few examples of how we encourage these practices to become part of the daily life our students. This year’s Spiritual Practices are centered on the idea of "unplugging."
Unplugging as a Spiritual Practice
"My soul finds rest in God alone." Psalm 62:1
Oftentimes throughout the gospels, Jesus intentionally removed himself from his surroundings to solitary places of retreat.
"And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them." Luke 4:42
"But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray." Luke 5:16
"And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there." Mark 1:35
Jesus spent these times actively praying, but also demonstrating the importance of withdrawing from crowds and busyness. In an age of mass communication, technology, and demanding schedules, it’s difficult for any of us to sustain an uninterrupted lifestyle. Nevertheless, withdrawing from these distractions is a significant component of our spiritual growth and formation.
verb (used with object), unplugged, unplugging
1. to remove a plug or stopper from.
2. to free of an obstruction; unclog.
3. to disconnect.
There are many ways we can encourage our campus community to unplug. Like Christ, our personal goal should be to both exemplify this virtue and to encourage others in the same direction. Below are “graces” that allow us to practice engaging in unplugging:
- Unplugging electronic devices for an intentional period of time.
- Refraining from internet/social networking use for an intentional period of time.
- Devoting time to others without interruption. Create space for face-to-face encounters with people.
- Set a time of night after which you won’t check email or do social media.
- Put a cap on the amount of television you watch in a day and/or week.
Practices Related to Unplugging
“Simplicity cultivates the great art of letting go. Simplicity aims at loosening inordinate attachment to owning or having. Simplicity brings freedom and with it generosity.” -Adele Calhoun, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
Simplicity encourages us to live without the need to possess and frees us from obsessive attachments to things. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus reassures us not to store up for ourselves “treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Our purpose is to live to both posses and emit the love of God. Richard Foster wrote that “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.”
“Sabbath is God’s gift of repetitive and regular rest. It is given for our delight and communion with God. Time for being in the midst of a life of doing particularly characterizes the Sabbath.” -Adele Calhoun, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
In the book of Hebrews 4:9-11, the writer makes it clear: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…”
Practicing and observing the Sabbath helps us not only to rest, but to resist the temptation of consuming ourselves with busyness. Sabbath is so important to God that God makes it a commandment for us to abide by. Observing Sabbath is a way to honor God and to honor ourselves. Keeping the Sabbath is also about establishing a healthy rhythm in our lives. In moving towards creating these healthy rhythms it’s important that we work at making Sabbath a weekly practice.
“The practice of solitude involves scheduling enough uninterrupted time in a distraction-free environment that you experience isolation and are alone with God. Solitude is a ‘counter discipline’ for the practice of other disciplines.” -Adele Calhoun, The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
The ministry of Jesus began with 40 days of solitude and fasting. Even after he left the wilderness he continued to practice and teach on the importance of solitude and withdrawal. We need moments of solitude to quiet our hearts and minds to the voice of God. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.” It is in our stillness that the quiet voice of God speaks. It is also in solitude that we are our authentic selves with God.
FOCUS: Spiritual Formation
November 3—7, 2014
1st day of each month: Noon to Midnight
NATIONAL DAY OF UNPLUGGING
March 6–7, 2015