Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Are We Spiritual People?

It is amazing how many people turned their undivided attention toward the Vatican in the days the conclave of cardinals convened to elect a new Pope.  The religious, unreligious, anti-religious, and indifferent awaited the black smoke to turn white, and the identity of the new leader of 1.2 billion Catholics to emerge.  The world eagerly awaited the name Francis I to be chosen, and the personality and character of the new Pontiff to surface. Why do so many unaffiliated with the Catholic Tradition become so interested in their new leader?  Why when the Catholic Church has undergone much criticism and scrutiny over their global transgressions of sexual immorality, and rape, have many people become invested?  Perhaps it is just the sheer greatness the Church has over the world that draws our gaze.  Maybe many are simply hoping for a cleaning up of corruption by the new Pontiff.  Maybe, it is just the newest story in the news to grab headlines, and no one truly cares. 
I tend to believe that the new Pope, his upbringing, history, character, and influence has more to do with our own spirituality.  Most people realize that they are spiritual people.  Whether you go to church or not, chances are you recognize a spiritual side to your being.  Even the social sciences have recognized that importance of Spiritual Health in the overall health of an individual.  Nearly every day I meet people who tell me they are spiritual people, but not religious.

Spirituality is important to people.  The Catholic Church strives to be a spiritual institution, therefore, when news of a new leader is on the rise, people cannot help but be interested for their own spiritual sake.

There are books upon books that talk about becoming more spiritual.  We can take classes about becoming aware of our spiritual being.  There are retreats, seminars, movies, shows, prayers, songs, gurus, chapels, sanctuaries, meditations, drugs, movements, and therapies that all promise to make us more spiritual people.

The problem is that nothing can make us "more spiritual" just as nothing can make us "more emotional."  A book, movie or song, can tug at our emotions, and books, songs, and movies can tug at our spirit, but these are only short term accomplishments that have no lasting fruit.  They do not make us more emotional or more spiritual. 

I have spent time in my life trying to become "more spirituality."

I kept telling myself if I read one more book, or learned one more philosophy, or recited just one more prayer, one more teaching, I could find that gap in my spirit to fill me. We look for these quick answer that cost us a small price to fill our needs, and we find ourselves still wanting.  This is all indicative of our self made human construct.  When we are hungry we drive thru McDonalds and buy our physical fulfillment.  When we feel inadequate we buy a book or class to teach us one more trade, when we feel sad we buy one more drug or drink to make us happy, when we are unfulfilled we buy one more movie, or vacation, or a bigger television. When we feel that our image is hurting we buy one more piece of clothing, when we lose our joy we look for one more relationship.  When things are broken we buy our way into healing.  We look for quick fixes or complete replacements.  This has become our spiritual being.

We think if we get another tattoo, or piece of jewelry or another sacred relic we might fill that spiritual void.  In a way we think if a better leader is chosen to lead the spiritual, no matter how skeptical we are of the tradition, we too might be spiritually filled.

However, nothing can make us "more spiritual"; we are already spiritual, just like we are already physical, emotional, and social.  What we need is spiritual health and guidance.  As much as we wish and pretend, true physical health cannot come from an easy fix.  Doctors since the beginning of time say right eating and right exercise leads to physical health.  The same is true with our spiritual health.  What we put into our spirit, and what work we do with our spirit will decide if we are healthy or not. 

Our spirits are hungry.  Pills and vitamins are good, but they will never cure hunger.  Books, and traditions are good, but they will never cure our spiritual hunger.  We need spiritual bread, bread that will make sure we never go hungry.  We need spiritual water, so that we never go thirsty.  We need a spiritual task so that our souls do not apathy. 

We miss where to find spiritual food, drink, and work because of its simplicity.  We often want to find a secret, hidden, undiscovered truth for ourselves that we can keep and control. The truth is that this spiritual food, drink, and work are given to all people.  It is not just the intellectual, powerful, or those who have arrived who have this spiritual sustenance, in fact they typically overlook it.  This food is accessible to all as a gift.  Our spiritual life cannot be bought or earned.

The question is, are you hungry?  Are you thirsty?  Are you lost?  Are you willing to be fed and filled?  Are you ready to be given drink and quenched?  Are you longing to journey down a road toward healing and companionship?

Eat:  Jesus says - I am the bread of life (John 6:35)

Drink:  Jesus says - Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)

Follow:  Jesus says - The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29)

There is much more to be said about all this.  I am not simply forcing or pushing anyone into something.  I am simply inviting you to ask honest questions, and give honest answers.  How is your spirit?  Are you searching from place to place, addiction to addiction, teaching to teaching, trend to trend?  Is your spirit fulfilled? 

What does Jesus mean when he says we can be fed on him?

What does it mean to believe in Jesus as a work?

What would your spirit begin to look like if you regularly went to Jesus to be fed, quenched, and commissioned?

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