Saturday, March 19, 2011

Over Spiritualizing

Have you ever known someone who seems unable to have a normal conversation without constantly injecting it with “God-talk”? If you are like me you probably get a bit uncomfortable – not because of the subject of spirituality, but because of the inappropriateness of the person. I am not sure if they are trying to reach me in some way, or if they need to constantly reassure or convince themselves (or me) about their faith. Either way it is annoying. A friend of mine calls this “icky Christianity”.

What worries me for them is a possible tendency to have polarized thinking. In counseling we would call this splitting: all good/all bad. Spiritually, they may view the world and operate as if under the law, becoming a present day Pharisee, or they may believe that grace will cover everything and so they operate their lives without regard to the full teaching of the Bible.

I am also concerned that this way of thinking may make them more vulnerable to flip-flopping in either their beliefs or their behavior. One day they seem to be following God with all their heart, and the next they have fallen off the map. What is preferable is being consistently steady, realistic and balanced.

What does this balance look like? It means operating with: structure and flexibility, love and truth, rules and relationship, principles and forgiveness, passion without pressuring or criticizing others. This is not easy. It takes strength and courage and the ability to embrace the messiness of humanity.

What also concerns me about God-talk is the effect is has on those who are not believers. Before I became a Christian the only effect it had on me was to keep me away from those who spoke that way. I felt judged and separate, an outsider. I spent as little time with them as I could and I believe it kept me away from faith much longer. I could not get to Jesus because these people were in the way.

How are you? Where do you fall in this discussion? I believe it can be an opportunity for valuable self-examination. I know I have had to strip a lot of things from my conversational style as I grew in Christ. I am still working on it, to be perfectly honest. Let’s grow together.  

1 comment:

  1. This is a good subject to ponder and ruminate. I think about this as it applies to myself and my understanding. My wish is to serve God with my life. And it is better said by the things that we do, our actions that speak louder than words to those around us. I'll shall continue to ponder and apply this to myself. Thank you