Someone asked me to define "spirituality" recently. What does it mean to be spiritual? I think confusion on this subject is the result of misunderstanding, ignorance and lack of good teaching.
To me to be spiritual is to love obey Jesus, which results in be being fully human. A spiritual person is one who is on a journey of becoming all God meant him or her to be. True spirituality then, is to pursue the truth and then live the truth as we engage our culture and speak the truth to others.
One can be a missionary and be unspiritual, and a businessperson and be deeply spiritual. One can avoid attending church on Sunday but be an active member of a disciple making community that worships on Friday nights, and be spiritual. The day of the week you gather with other believers does not make one spiritual. Being like Jesus does.
Pseudo-spirituality is attractive only if we don't experience true life. Pseudo-spirituality seeks growth from establishing false boundaries, ways of guaranteeing spiritual growth. The boundaries we establish are often highly visual but relationally superficial practices that allow ourselves a modicum of security in regards to being "spiritual." But Jesus taught that we are not to be conformed to religious rules and sub-cultures, but rather to be transformed by simple faith.
True spiritual faith is dangerous because there is no way to guarantee one has it. No religious practice, no belief, nothing can produce such faith. Such faith is a personal response not a practice or belief. Sometimes orthodoxy is over-rated. Faith is trust in a person, not espousing a set of beliefs.
How do we guard against pseudo-spirituality? By recognizing it's ugly presence, not in others, but in our selves. Pseudo-spirituality occurs when we seek the appearance of being spiritual. We can tell it's root system is growing deep in us when we become judgmental, exclusive or proud.
Our spirituality is inauthentic if we become less approachable human beings as our responsibilities in life increase. Think about Jesus.
We are pseudo-spiritual if our spirituality is not resulting in us becoming more like Jesus. He is the true standard. To be spiritual is not to be weird.
True spirituality involves death, but not imposed death or shame-based death. To be truly alive we go through a death process to what is not real or alive or truthful in us. To be free is to die to our false self.
The apostle Paul wrote some profound things about being a truly spiritual person. There are many of them I could quote from Paul's writings, but I will focus on five that strike me as vital.
Try these on for size and see how they fit:
- Trust really trust God: "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish