Do You Have a Passionate Spirituality?

This is not a question you get asked everyday. Nonetheless it is still a very good question to ponder.

To define our terms a bit, spirituality can refer to anything from how I feel about myself to what God is doing in and through me. However, while the word spirituality does not occur in the Bible, related words such as spirit and spiritual do. The words translated spirit, in both the OT and NT, can also mean wind, breath, or spirit. Thus, this word group can be used to describe both internal and external “unseen” processes.

There is much that could be said here, but in sum, when the Bible and Christian tradition speaks of spirituality, the notion deals with some connection we have with God’s Spirit. Christian spirituality is when God’s Holy Spirit touches our human spirits. It is a way to speak of our journey towards God. This journey is the primary work and mission God has placed on the church.

When I ask if you have a passionate spirituality, what I mean is your spirituality alive, vital, and practiced? Again, the Bible and Christian tradition has passed on to those who seek to follow Jesus certain practices that will condition them for the journey. These practices include, but are not limited to, the following: prayer, meditation, reading scripture, giving, fasting, worship, spiritual conversations, reading works of spirituality, and service. Those who have a vital, passionate spirituality are those willing to commit to these practices.

While these spiritual practices can’t make God respond to our (self-)perceived needs—would we really want that anyway?—they can posture us so that we are more useful to God’s purposes.

Pray right now, if you can, that God will give you and your church a deeper, more passionate spirituality.

What do you mean? Spiritual?

Supposedly, we are in a time of spiritual awakening—I mean, with angels floating around our heads and paranormal activity on the increase, we now hear the words “spiritual” and “spiritual-ity” often—even on TV and at the movies!

Now Christians are obviously not opposed to the spiritual, in fact, we embrace it. Nevertheless, it may be that we have missed what a spirituality centered in Christ really is.

In our culture “spiritual” often means no more than “religious” or even “ritualistic.” Yet, more recently, “spiritual” is good while “religious” is bad. So all in all, being spiritual is a bit confusing.

If, though, we allow the New Testament (NT), and particularly Paul—after all it was he coined this word—define what it means to be spiritual, we come up with a completely different understanding than those current in popular thought.

Paul thought of the word in relationship to the Holy Spirit, thus he spoke of Spirit-uality. The Greek word translated spiritual occurs 17 times in the NT, literally means something like spirit-ness.

Thus, for Paul, spirituality had nothing to do with being religious—a thought both Jesus and Paul repudiated—but with what happens to a person who encounters God’s Spirit—that is, what happens when our spirits come in contact with God’s Spirit.

For example, in 1 Cor. 3:1, Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, we were not able to speak to you as those who are spiritual (led by the Spirit) but as those who are carnal (led by the flesh), even as babies in Christ.”

While Paul touches on being spiritually immature here, the focus is on our unwillingness to yield to the Spirit of God, and this is the way one becomes Spiritual. Paul had already pointed out that the unspiritual, (those without the Spirit of God) cannot understand the things of God for they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:10-16).

Thus, being spiritual in the New Testament has to do with being changed by the presence of God—that is what the Spirit symbolizes: God living in us.

For those interested in following what the New Testament say about being Spiritual, the references are: Rom. 1:11; 7:14; 15:27; 1Cor. 2:13-15; 3:1; 9:11; 10:3, 4; 12:1; 14:1, 37; 15:44, 46; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 1:3; 5:19; 6:12; Col. 1:9; 3:16; and 1Pet. 2:5.