Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fake Spirituality

Last week, I talked about how both belief and unbelief can coexist, side by side, in our lives, and I tied it in to our core values--Real Spirituality, Real Community, and Real Story. When we are not following God completely, these vital components of a genuine faith degenerate into Fake Spirituality, Fake Community, and Fake Story. Lately, Pastor Brent and I have been calling these "The Easy Threesy" instead of The Key Three.

But beware! This degradation happens more easily than you might think, and unless we stay vigilant in our relationship with God, we are certain to drift into The Easy Threesy. This week, we're examining Fake Spirituality.

Real Spirituality is about possessing an authentic vertical relationship with God. For our relationship with God to be authentic, there are several important criteria:

  • We have to accept at the most basic level who he is and who we are. He is the Creator; we are the created. He is the Master; we are the slaves. He is the Father; we are the children. He is the Sovereign; we are the subjects. He is the Leader; we are the followers.
  • Because of the nature of this relationship, we have to accept his commands, his will, his plan, his cause, his wisdom--we have to live life his way. So we use "our" possessions, time, health, abilities, relationships, careers, and opportunities for his purposes.
  • Finally, we must understand that he is the proper object of our worship, and we must strive to eliminate all competitors for our heart's affection, staying connected to him in prayer and through his Word.
Fake Spirituality cleverly and subtly seeks to subvert each of these markers.
  • While giving lip service to God's authority, Fake Spirituality tries to soften God's complete and total demand on our lives. We end up fudging around the corners by being "reasonable," adopting our own notions of God's identity, instead of accepting who he has revealed himself to be. This can happen in a thousand different ways. One of the most common ones I hear is the insistence that "God would want me to be happy." And that idea is used to justify a wide variety of sin--even adultery and divorce! So the practitioner of Fake Spirituality continues to claim to accept and follow God, but it is not God as he has revealed himself to be through his Word.
  • When we start to make God "reasonable," it changes the kind of demands that he places on our lives. We begin to say things like, "Well, God would never ask me to give up my golf league; after all, there's nothing wrong with golf." And of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with golf, but God will ask us to give anything that stands in the way of us accomplishing his purposes for our lives. We will miss a call to enter the ministry, a call to serve overseas, a call to build a bridge with our next-door neighbors. In essence, we stop listening to God's demands to pursue a life of our own comfort and convenience, life on our own terms.
  • A person possessing Fake Spirituality may be at church every Sunday, but they do not have God as their object of worship. They might worship pleasure, power, possessions, popularity, or prestige. It might be career, thrills, politics, or alcohol. It could be anything... except God. For a person of Fake Spirituality, they may still pray, but they will find their prayer times dry and empty, and their prayers will go unanswered--because there is a lack of desire to truly hear what God is saying to them. When God demands something that we refuse to surrender, we lose our close connection to him.

Here's the problem: One event of obedience is never enough. We may experience a spiritual breakthrough in our lives--a time of learning, where we begin to understand God in a deeper way than we ever have before; a time of surrender, where we give up our resistance and humbly accept God's demands for that moment in our lives; a time of victory, where we overcome an addiction or a habit that has kept us in bondage--but that time will pass, and God will call us to experience him again a deeper level.

We cannot rest on that past success--God calls us to experience ongoing success in our lives. Surrendering to him is a continual process that never ends. To be people of Real Spirituality, we must learn to make surrender a habit--that we would constantly ask him what he would want from us next, and then seek to do it. In other words, that we would come to God, saying "yes" to him in advance--whatever it is that he wants to do.

Here are the tell-tale signs of Fake Spirituality, so that you can test yourself to see if you've wandered into complacency in your walk with Jesus. Do you live with:

  • A nostalgia for the past, when you felt closer to God?
  • Devotion to a program or ministry that at one time served as a tool for your growth?
  • Longing for a person that God had used formerly to draw you to himself?
  • An attachment to a particular style of music, preaching, or worship service--and if you don't have your preferred style you "can't worship"?

When we have fallen in love with the forms over the Former, it means trouble for us spiritually. There is no method, no person, no program that God deems necessary, but many times we are quick to override him. We declare things necessary that God has not, and in that way we demonstrate our refusal to accept his lordship over our lives. We demonstrate our Fake Spirituality.

You see, it's easy for this to happen. In fact, it happens all the time--it's the Easy Threesy. Real Spirituality, a vital, authentic vertical relationship with God, takes concentration and effort. It takes focus and determination. But O! What a joy to walk closely with God! To sense his presence and care, to know his faithfulness and love, to rest peacefully in the midst of chaos, to rejoice in the middle of suffering--it is the most wonderful thing in the world.

What is it that's holding you back? Why not say "yes" to God right now, and enjoy a return to Real Spirituality?

No comments: