Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Practical Spirituality

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I have a spiritually incorrect question to ask you. Not politically incorrect, but spiritually.

But before I ask it, let me give you a little background. I have been trying to write this blog post for some time now, because the question I have been pondering in my heart is taboo by typical Christian standards. I did some field research by discreetly speaking with some fellow Christians, and what I learned is people in the church are thirsting for honesty and authenticity (let me clarify by "church" I mean the church in general, not necessarily the specific church I attend). People are looking for a place to ask these "spiritually incorrect" questions and not be judged as heretics. People are looking for answers in a confusing, discouraging world.

So I'll jump first and ask my question: why does Christianity seem so impractical sometimes?

I was blessed to grow up in the church. I went to church before I was even born (thanks mom!). So for 28 years, I have experienced the highs and lows of the Christian walk, even before I was saved myself. This past year, it has bothered me tremendously that Christians are often told to do things, but are not told how to do these things. Take for example the commonplace response of "trust God" in the midst of a trial. Well...sure, okay. I know I am supposed to trust God. But I find it difficult to trust Him when I don't know what He's doing and my emotions are plummeting me into discouragement. So since trusting God doesn't come easily for me, I must be a failure.

You see the cycle people are put in? There has been much debate over the past several years why young people are leaving the church. Of course we may never know the full reasons, but I am beginning to think one reason is how impossible the "perfect Christian walk" seems. Jesus warned His disciples, "watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" Matthew 26:41 (NIV). We are given victory over sin through Jesus Christ's sacrifice, but the daily struggle of the flesh is still very present in our lives. I think more battles would be won if people were given the tools of practical spirituality.

Think about it this way: God is a practical God. He is a planner. Before Eve even took a bite of the forbidden fruit, God had a plan for a Savior. The Bible says God has a plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11). So it is hard to believe that God would expect us to follow His commands without giving instructions for application.

The concept of practical spirituality has emerged from my research and prayer into the question I posed earlier. So what is practical spirituality? Practical spirituality gives us the tools to apply broad Biblical teachings to our own lives. No matter how you feel, who you are or what circumstances you are in, practical spirituality helps you apply God's Word.

After the difficult year my family and I have endured, here are a few topics I think could use a dose of practical spirituality:
  1. Wrestling with God - should we feel shame for disagreeing with God's will?
  2. Trusting God - how to do it in the midst of confusion and disappointment.
  3. Failure - what is the appropriate response when we fail spiritually?
  4. Emotions - (this is a big one for me, because emotions are where I am weakest) how to obey God's Word when we feel like doing otherwise.
My personal study time has been devoted to talking to God, reading the Bible and addressing these topics in my own life. Now that I have laid it all out there, I am curious what you think. What questions do you think could use some practical spirituality?