Psalm 22

Because of You I offer praise in the great congregation; I pay my vows in the presence of His worshipers. (22:26)

The movement of “Spiritual But Not Religious” defines itself as a search for spiritual growth and fulfillment without attachment to a specific religious community. On the contrary, I believe that the highest spiritual growth can only occur within a community. The Psalmist believes that both celebrations ought to be held within a congregation, and the duties that one owes ought to be paid within a community.

One’s spiritual peak by definition ought to be the negation of self, subsuming oneself into the larger body of being and energy of the community, the world, the universe. Arriving at a radical understanding of unity means that not only God is one, but that God, the universe, and one’s life are bound together in a singular unity. Nothing we do is in a vacuum. Every action we take has repercussions that echo around us.

Doing spiritual work on one’s own is the ultimate focus on oneself, making oneself the center of the universe. Rather than humbling the self, this tends to inflate the ego. Placing oneself in community, for work, worship, study, and celebration, forces a person to look at other’s needs alongside or above his or her own. It is a reminder for us that we are not the center of the universe.

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