CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY--Week 23
Christian spirituality is a blend of God's presence through the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of God through His Word.
We prepare ourselves for the presence of God through prayer, awaiting His spontaneous presence as He chooses to reveal Himself to us. And to recognize Him--to enter into His presence--we study the Scriptures.
If we were to trust every impulse which we think might be God, we will wander off into our own psychology. After all, the Scriptures already say God's ways are not ours, they are higher. And yet, to limit God to propositions we believe are logical is to suffocate our capacity to receive His presence.
So we pray, we wait for the sponteneity of God's presence while we learn who He is in the Bible.
God is ultimately not like us and He is not like 'gods.' He is not like us in that He does not lie (Ps. 89.35), and He is not like other gods because He lives (Romans 14.11). Wood doesn't live, metal doesn't live, mental ideas don't live. Gods die, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lives. Jesus says, Before Abraham was born, I am, John 8.58.
The Sermon on the Mount speaks of three aspects of spirituality from God--alms(giving), prayer, fasting. Alms is generosity, prayer is humility, fasting is denial. We give ourselves and our money away, we approach God in humility and love, and we deny the world to see God.
That in the Sermon Jesus mentions almsgiving first tells us Christian spirituality comes through the church. This is true of publications by the church and the church's presence in society even if we aren't there.
Then Jesus mentions prayer next. We cannot have Christian spirituality without prayer, as prayer is our seeking after God from our spirit to God's spirit. Today, churches don't really pray as the seeking after God, so we don't always pray by ourselves. It's always good to keep a journal of prayers and God's answers. It's amazing how many prayers God answers.
Then Jesus mentions fasting. This is probably practiced less today than any spiritual practice. Maybe we think it's a kind of religious work, but my experience is that the denal of the flesh is the opening of the spirit. This, really, is to be expected since Jesus lived as a human while He was God. When Jesus went out into the desert to be tempted by Satan, He used fasting to protect Himself, Matt. 4.1. How strong is your protection?
In each of these three areas, there is much in the Scriptures to learn. Some of these subjects are endlessly fascinating, but they all use our action. In the end Christianity is what we do, not what we merely contemplate.