Saturday, June 21, 2008

Spiritually Bankrupt

Jeromy at Seeking Goliath recently linked to a blog where the author talked about feeling "spiritually bankrupt.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." I'm not sure what that means. But I think Dallas Willard was the one writing about how "Blessed are the poor in spirit" really means, "Good news! In MY Kingdom, even the spiritually bankrupt get invites!"

Oh, man, I hope he's right. That would be great news for me. Because I'm not very spiritual. Never have been. I've tried. And I'll keep trying. But I'm just not. I don't feel much of anything a lot of the time. I'm sorry.

I know; I probably won't be writing old-school hymns: "And He walks with me, I think, and He talks with me, probably in some way, and He tells me I am His own, but generally not through an audible voice that I hear, at least in a non-metaphorical sense, and none other has ever known just how awkward it even is for me to talk about my faith, personally, and I know I should feel bad about that, too."

Maybe I'm still doing something wrong. I've never come by faith easily. I don't get swept up in swirling "powerful worship". Shoot, I'm not even comfy in it. I don't like praying out loud, even among friends.

Read the whole thing. Brant writes very movingly about his inability to feel moved spiritually. I don't think Brant is alone, either. In my own sphere of experience, I have heard people express similar feelings and the internet is certainly full of people expressing the same sentiment.

For many of these people, I believe their feelings stem from a common source. In our age of sensationalism it is easy to trip over people on TV, in the newspaper, or in books proclaiming their profound spirituality and connection with God. They cry and shout and proclaim how deeply they feel God's presence in their lives, how he moves in them, touches them, and is always right there with them through all of their trials and tribulations. Leaving aside that much of this often seems exaggerated and not real, how can people have faith when it seems like this is the only way to have real faith.

I think faith comes in many forms and for some it is not going to be the charismatic, emotional, "I feel God's hand on me" sort of faith. For some, faith will be a quiet belief that there is a higher power of some sort and that life is not a meaningless exercise. Unfortunately, in our society it is easy to fall prey to marketing which tells you how you are supposed to feel. When people see some preacher on TV talking about how he literally feels God's presence regularly, no doubt some question their own faith, asking, "Why don't I feel like that."

And the answer is, "Because you're different." Just as we all like different foods or are attracted to different people, we are each going to feel faith in a different way and that's just the way it should be.

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