Monday, June 4, 2018

Spirituality or Spiritual Experience

My daughter and son-in-law are healthy eaters. They have lost 40-50 lbs. each and kept the weight off. I asked them their secret, and they said, ‘Eating healthy is like having a second full-time job.’

I responded, ‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, you have to learn about food and nutrition, and that takes time. Then you have to know how the digestive system works and what foods are good for certain digestive enzymes. Again, that takes time. And then you have to discipline yourself not to eat certain things.’

They don’t eat processed foods, sugar, bread, fruit (except some berries), red meat, or many carbohydrates. Everything has to be fresh- that means more trips to the store. This takes time. Then the food has to be prepared properly. More time. They take classes and read books on how to cook, prepare good tasting foods, and how to keep the nutrients in the food. Then you have to have the cooking tools to prepare the food. On and on it goes; by the time they explained everything to me, I understood what they meant by ‘it’s like having a second full-time job.’

I would have a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (which are full of sugar) with milk for breakfast and feel really satisfied- you know, like a sugar high. They would eat protein in some form. Guess who would be hungry in about an hour and a half? Me. They could go hours before needing their next meal.

I use this illustration to compare the difference between spirituality and spiritual experience. Spirituality takes time. It takes discipline and sacrifice. It’s a full-time job of being filled with the Spirit, living victoriously and abundantly.

Spirituality is not knowing more Bible stories, memorizing more Bible verses, or being involved in more church activities. These may be noble ventures but often become religious busyness more than soul purposefulness.

Spirituality is the journey in which God is permitted to guide the way, provide the strength for the journey. It’s learning to take one’s cues from the Holy Spirit, not from the world around us, having heavenly discernment, conviction, and decision. It is evident that the Spirit of God has been invited to dwell in your life (see Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16).

Spiritual experience is different. It is like eating Cheerios for breakfast: the contentment doesn’t last very long. Spiritual experiences require little discipline of the soul and are usually prompted by an external stimulus (music, persuasive speaking, or intense feelings). Spiritual experiences can happen at any time and are regularly a matter of emotion more than anything else.

Spiritual experiences often bring honor to the musician, speaker, or event instead of honor to God Himself. In a world where the intensity of an experience is of great value, we are easily duped into thinking that a momentary religious experience that leaves us amazed is far more genuine and satisfying than the hard work of developing spirituality. Let’s not settle for that.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott