06
Mar
08

Being Spiritual Without Being Wierd

Have you ever been around people who tried so hard to appear spiritual they looked and sound weird? I have seen it in my ministry. These are the people who use a code language when they speak. Their phrases and thoughts are so bizarre no one can interpret their meaning. I know more than a few pastors who change their voice inflections when they communicate in order to sound spiritual. Typically these people are not spiritual; they are just plain weird.

A person being “spiritually weird” reminds me of a great Sunday school story.

A little boy went to Sunday school, where he knew the sort of answers you are supposed to give to questions. The teacher asked, “What is brown, furry, has a long tail, and stores up nuts in the winter?”

“Well,” the boy muttered, “I guess the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”

John Ortberg, in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People says, “I am like that. I try to say spiritual-sounding things, even when I don’t know what I’m saying: ‘I guess the answer is Jesus…’”

One of the many things I like about CrossPoint is that we can be ourselves, and yet still work toward growing spiritually. I cannot think of a soul at CrossPoint who tries to come across as pious or “better-than-thou.” Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of spiritual people at CrossPoint; but none that I know of that speak or act spiritually weird. Perhaps that is why so many people are curious about CrossPoint.

When I think of being spiritual I am reminded of a riveting parable Jesus once told:

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

Notice the dichotomy between the Pharisee and the tax collector:

  • Both the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the temple to pray.
  • The Pharisee brought attention to himself; the tax collector diverted attention from himself.
  • The Pharisee bragged about his righteous acts; the tax collector was embarrassed by his sin.
  • The Pharisee compared himself to others; the tax collector compared himself to no one.
  • The Pharisee condemned himself; the tax collector was justified by God.
  • The Pharisee was humbled; the tax collector was exalted.

    The key to the entire parable, and for that matter the key to spiritual growth, is found in verse 13:

    But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

    The tax collector’s prayer is often referred to as the “Jesus Prayer.” In that one sentence we can learn three great spiritual truths. First, we learn there is a God. Next, we realize God is merciful. Finally, we must admit we are sinners. True spiritual growth occurs when a person wrestles with those three realities. Until then, they are just acting weird.

    Spiritual growth, development, conversations, and awareness are definitely an integral part of the CrossPoint culture. Even though those things are present one would be hard pressed to find an iota of spiritual superiority or smugness in our family of faith. And, that is a good thing. Thank you CrossPoint for not being so weird.

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    2 Responses to “Being Spiritual Without Being Wierd”


    1. 1 Tim
      March 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm

      I agree with your thoughts about this “code language” and people working themselves into a “spiritually wierd” state of mind thinking that by acting, saying, or by the way we say something, makes us “more spiritual”. This has surfaced several times as I have prayed and thought about the new D201 membership material. I believe one of the single largest factors in believers not growing to spiritual maturity is the perception of the way we think we have to “act” or “speak” to be “spiritual”. The more I observe the “Truly Godly” characters of the old and new testaments, Jesus’ disciples, and even Jesus himself (In His Humanity, except the mistake part) I see real people with real problems, making mistakes and being obedient with a true faith and a pure heart towards God. I think our greatest barrier to helping people grow spiritually is getting the peception out of their minds that they have to be perfect or like someone else that they percieve to be “spiritual”. God created us different with different passions and experiences for His purposes. So that we could Glorify Him in who He created and called us to be!!

    2. 2 Marie
      March 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm

      Ryan,

      I think the one thing that I most enjoy about teaching the Bible Stories for Adults class is being able to show that characters from the Bible were ordinary like us. I enjoy trying to get a handle on how they felt about being in certain situations; how daily life must have been; the fears and frustrations they must have felt; and certainly how very physically painful some situations must have been. When we are able to walk a few minutes in their shoes on Wednesday evenings, it makes the Bible come alive. It makes all the teachings much more relevant and meaningful. I love not having to be “weird” in order to be a member of CrossPoint. I love having the freedom and liberty to “read between the lines” of the Bible stories. I hope others are able to see this side of CrossPoint.

      Marie


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