What Is True Christian Spirituality?
Is being spiritual some mystical, ethereal, existential experience that happens inside you and is to be kept private? Is it primarily about striving to become more like Jesus in inner essence of character, being a faithful church attendee, and learning to have your own personnel quiet time, until you can get off this old corrupt world and go to heaven?
Or is it something that has happened and is happening in you as a result of the gospel of the kingdom's work in you and through you by the Holy Spirit so that you are defined as being a spiritual person, which also describes everything you do and everywhere you are? Being spiritual, from this perspective, means that you are a kingdom person serving the King of the Universe and pressing His crown rights into every sphere of life, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy are You Lord of Hosts, for the whole earth is filled with Your glory and I will live to experience, express and extend that glory unto the ends of the earth until the end of time!”
Satan's most important blow against this type of Christianity was achieved by essentially denying the priesthood of all believers and the sacredness of all of life and asserting that only those with a special calling were commissioned with a special authority to serve in a sacred space and act as his ministers, everyone else was just ordinary members, living and working in the secular space with no authority other than what the church leaders conferred on them.
Early in church history Satan orchestrated a division of the Church into two groups, and he overemphasized the distinctions. The large majority he called "the laity," and the small minority he began to call "the clergy."
This two-tier class system of "clergy/laity, sacred/secular, and full-time ministers, who do the work of the ministry, with all others just members, who are expected to "pray, pay and stay out of the way,"has been in place for almost 1700 years.
This system has proven the axiom that there is "No Impact without Contact"!
To illustrate, let's consider this hypothetical situation: Let's suppose The Center for Communicable Diseases fears an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa which could wipe out millions. What do they do to try and contain and prevent its spread? They isolate those who have contracted the disease so they have no contact with the healthy.
Suppose the Department of HELL wanted to stop an epidemic of New Testament Christianity. It would surely do everything possible to isolate the "carriers," and thus stop the spread. And that is precisely what has happened in the Church at large. We have isolated ourselves in our "churches" i.e. buildings and have very little if any contact with lost persons.
An actual historical case in point is found in the country of Indonesia. This country is comprised of some 17,000 islands with 266 million inhabitants. It is the fourth most populous country on the planet, and has the largest Muslim population of all nations.
It comes as a surprise to many when they learn that 87% of the Indonesian population claims to be Muslim. In fact, Indonesia has more Muslims than any other nation on earth. The number exceeds the number of Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan combined!
How did this happen in a part of the world that is so far from the Middle East?
Michael Baer, in his book, Business As Mission, gives the reason: "I once asked an Indonesian Christian why the country had become so predominantly Muslim...She said that when the Western Christians came, primarily from Holland, they built missionary compounds and missionary churches and expected the Indonesian people to come to them. The Muslims, on the other hand, came as traders, farmers, merchants, and businesspeople and simply lived among the natives."
Again, there isno impact without contact!
Dr. Darrell Furgason, an expert on Islam, observes, "In places like Africa and Indonesia, the church has been intellectually crippled, with one hand tied behind its back. Western missionaries generally brought the Gospel in the way they learned it, as a purely soul-saving faith, with no real bearing on anything else - religion was a mostly personal matter, nothing to do with things like politics, science, law, economics... African people were given the Gospel, but not how to build a righteous nation, how to apply Christianity to everything...Muslims see their faith as all-encompassing..."
This is what happens when Christians reduce biblical spirituality to that of personal salvation and holiness in order to go to heaven when they die, without the whole gospel of the kingdom message of being "King's kids in training for reigning so that God's kingdom is extended and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Christian Overman laments that although "the Sacred-Secular Divide is not part of the Muslim mindset, yet, regrettably, it is a big part of the thinking of many Christians.
"Reducing the Gospel to a matter of personal salvation has been done to the detriment of many nations, not the least of which is the United States, where we are now experiencing the painful outcomes.
"We have brought it upon ourselves."
Every Christian must be taught that true, biblical spirituality involves not only inner essence of character, but outward expression in conduct that views every available Christian as a minister and a missionary with a mission to see the kingdom of heaven come more fully into every dimension and discipline of life. Not just in the church house, but in the schoolhouse, the statehouse, family's house, business house, and in every legitimate house.
We must broaden our definition of "full-time" Christian service from those who do church work, like youth ministry, singing, preaching and teaching to every discipline of life -- lawyers, doctors, nurses, artists, economists, educators, and politicians (better -- statesmen instead of politicians).
Since we, the redeemed, regenerate, followers of Christ are the Church, we need to stop trying to bring people "into the church," and start bringing the Church to the people. The Church must be seen as a living Building and Body - a 24/7 following of Christ in which Christians live and do everyday life. Christians are to incarnate the gospel wherever they are and to be Jesus to everyone around them. This means getting equipped to give kingdom of heaven solutions and strategies in every area of life!
This is true, biblical spirituality!