By Jenene Stafford
As I’ve been researching some of the Buddhist types of teaching, I admit it is quite fascinating. I find it interesting that research shows two different schools of thought. One being that you can practice the teaching of Buddha without actually being a Buddhist.
It is the same with Christianity. A person can practice the religious philosophies of Christianity without being an authentic Christian.
A rather analytical kind of religious intelligence has for centuries been elevated by western culture, above spirituality. This form of religious intelligence is responsible for many tragedies that still continue around the world.
It leads me to the spiritual realization that there are many Christians who practice Christianity from a religious standpoint, but yet don’t know God.
At some level as a spirit-filled Christian it’s a little embarrassing to recognize that a key reason people follow a Buddhist or otherwise lifestyle is because of the “spiritual” elements of their metaphorical practices and yet . . .
Here we are, Christians, and many of us don’t take advantage of the deep and rich spiritual gifts God promises us. Much of the world follows non-religious, yet spiritual practices. Seems strange to me!
This leads me to another thought.
Eastern Philosophy vs. Western Religion
Believe it or not, there are MANY SIMILARITIES amongst Spirit-filled Christians and people who practice eastern metaphorical and spiritual practices. Which brings me to wonder, how many Buddhists have a misunderstanding of what the Ancient Biblical spiritual practices really are.
So fascinating to see the ‘box’ Christians have been put into, via our own religious and political choices historically made. We also have Christian Apologetics for all of the religious wrongs so much of the church has been responsible for.
At least one thing that is missing is the fact that, without question, much of the ministry of the early church through the apostles was to demolish the idea of “religious practice” in order that people would “spiritually” connect to their divine purpose, walk in their Spiritual gifts and connect through meditation and prayer, the Spirit of God.
Christians in the early church experienced moments of enlightenment. It was occurring daily in the form of spiritual mysteries revealed. In fact, it was not due to a political agenda that people chose Christ, but rather because his light was so bright that people were drawn to him and his miracles. Another point of view is that people were so drawn to the light of Christ that they risked and gave up everything to follow him. People have been searching true enlightenment since time began.
Consider that true enlightenment is being connected to God in a way where He is in us and we are in Him. It is void of concepts, words and doctrines. It is in fact the most authentic spiritual state of being, where we cease to exist so that God can exist fully in us and is evident in our actions. Below you will see where Paul spoke of wisdom and deep spiritual things.
I Corinthians 2: 6-16
(6) When I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.
(7) No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God – his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for glory before the world began.
(8) But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.
(9) That is what the Scriptures means when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
(10) But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searched out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.
(11) No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.
(12) And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
(13) When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.
(14) But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all seems foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
(15) Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.
(16) For “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ Jesus.
We have seen that the choice to follow atheism is partly out of a reaction to the confines of the world-view of Christianity which is extremely skewed, as it pertains to religion. Non-Christians and Christians alike, in large part, don’t recognize the biggest secret of all. That is, to be a follower of Jesus is distinctly different than being a subscriber to Christianity as a religious philosophy. I profoundly believe that freedom comes through accessing the spiritual realm of life, as it relates to Jesus as the embodiment of wisdom, not religion.
I Corinthians 1:30
God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy and he freed us from sin.
The way I look at it, we don’t have to wait to experience spirituality and wisdom. We are now free to come into the presence of God as was the intention for the Jews, separate from endless requirements. Consider, like many Jews, religious Christians are still not accessing God, and have an invisible barrier keeping them from experiencing God spiritually. The blinding barrier worldwide is the religion of Christianity.
The Bible spoke often of the choice to walk in the flesh or walk in the spirit. Clearly Jesus taught that following the path of the flesh led to destruction.
Consider hell as a place where we are void of our spirituality as it is connected to a Good God. Hell then becomes a concept human beings can stomach without looking through the lenses of Western religion and a tainted religious past. In my reality as a very spiritual follower of Jesus, hell is a place where the purification to holiness becomes a process that is never-ending and the holy and unholy do not exist together.
If our flesh or humanity is contrary to the holiness of God, because of it’s very limiting nature, as it pertains to accessing God, then it makes practical sense, from that perspective, that it would be necessary to work around our humanness by humbling our flesh (ignoring our cravings for purity’s sake) and submitting to the authority of the Spirit.
To delve deeper into this I must almost seemingly contradict myself for the sake of this teaching. Spirituality in fact is contrary to our human nature and practical at the same time. We must look at this practically, because where you may be right now is likely looking through the lenses of practicality. How profound that we must walk the path from humanity to practicality to spirituality and finally reach God through this process.
If you can’t see the value in a practical approach to spirituality you may never know what Jesus meant when he said, “Many people pleaded Lord! Lord! I did your will and performed miracles in your name so why won’t you let me into heaven? Then he said, “It is because you didn’t do the will of my Father. I never knew you.”
Matthew 7: 21
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
You could read the scripture above and you may have a bad taste for Christianity or you’re feeling uncomfortable because it could be confronting for you personally. Setting that to the side, I think the more important thing to see is, Jesus says, “I never knew you.” If God does not know us, it is because we did not allow him to know us. God gives us free will to walk in the light (know him spiritually) or remain in the darkness (live limited by our humanity).
John 3: 18-21
(18) There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s own Son.
(19) And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil (against God).
(20) All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
(21) But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
True spirituality is being righteous because God’s own Spirit longs for righteousness (not to be confused with self-righteousness), not because of the law. One motive comes from a religious moral motive and the other comes from our love for God. God in his infinite wisdom knows the motive our heart.
To complete this topic: We must know God. When we know God, we will listen and know the path to an abundant spiritual path. Religion is not the means to knowing God. However a brilliant and fulfilling spiritual life can be found through Jesus.
So, if you’re a spiritual person looking for a spiritual experience and don’t believe it exists in the Christian Church, please don’t give up on us. Things are changing in the world and many people are finding a spiritual solution to fill their spiritual needs in the Christian Church.
But, I would say, do your due diligence to ask around and find a Church that offers a profound spiritual experience, not a religious one. Spirituality is catching on, however slow and unenlightened we have been. God is love and he is showing up.
Live Brilliantly Today!™