Most Christians in America struggle with actually living like Christians. The research shows that about 9 out of every 10 Christians are living a Christian “schizophrenic” life. Intellectually, we adhere to our faith and God’s truth, but when it comes down to our lifestyle, our priorities and behavior tell a completely different story.
During my early years as a believer, I lived this kind of double life. I felt torn between two worlds. Thursday nights I’d attend a Bible study on my college campus and then on Friday and Saturday nights I’d join four other players on the basketball team and hit every bar in Wheeling, West Virginia. I’d get home in the wee hours of the morning, miss church, feel guilty, ask for forgiveness, receive it, and then do it all over again. I was miserable!
This kind of guilt-driven, performance-oriented and compartmentalized life was never God’s plan for us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for our sins so that we could have an authentic and intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to have lives filled with purpose and meaning. This is true spirituality!
So how do we move beyond the religion and church programs, legalism and performance and into a grace-filled, authentic relationship with Christ to experience true spirituality? Here’s what we need to understand:
True spirituality begins with an accurate view of God.
If we have a warped picture of God, it will negatively affect the way we live our life. If we believe that God is an angry deity always looking to punish us, we will tend to become ritualistic. We will believe we have to do this or that just to appease his anger. Or if we see God as a cosmic scorekeeper, keeping track of good and bad behavior, we’ll only focus on trying to do enough good things to try to outweigh the bad things in order gain his favor. And finally, if we believe that God is an impersonal force, invisible and in all things, our focus will be on getting an altered state of consciousness to develop oneness with the universe.
But God is far from all of those things. He is our heavenly Father. He loves us and we matter to Him. And like any good parent, He wants the very best for us as his children.
So when we sin or go astray it’s not just about breaking a rule or doing something wrong. We actually bring Him sorrow, grieving the Holy Spirit. In other words, when we live in ways that are not good for us, it hurts God’s heart. Why? He’s our Father, and He loves us.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1)
True spirituality is built on the basis of relationship.
Being spiritual is not about the external keeping of religious duties. We may do these things out of love for different reasons, but primarily, we follow God’s ways because we know he wants the best for us and wants to protect us from getting hurt.
When Jesus was asked, what is the most important commandment in the Old Testament (Law)?
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)
True spirituality isn’t about trying to keep all the rules and earning God’s favor. It’s about relationship: loving God, loving people – 24/7 – from the heart and with the right motive.
This week, we begin the series Momentum: How to Ignite Your Faith. Join us as we journey back to the Old Testament to learn about true spirituality from the lives of Abraham, Daniel, Moses, David and Jonathan, and Joseph. My prayer during our time together is that as we learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we’ll be inspired and challenged to live a lifestyle of spiritual momentum.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip