Consuming or Pursuing ~
Our consumerist culture has pervasively influenced our Christian culture. I don’t think most folks would argue against that point. The temptation from culture is to approach spirituality as consumers. We “shop” for churches, for speakers, for musical preferences, for programs, for bible studies… we pursue with the idea that we are the object of import, so it seems logical, even responsible, that we look around to find what suits us.
Once we land somewhere, we begin to integrate whatever the standing criteria are for that institution. We develop skills. We hone disciplines (like “prayer”). We adapt to our chosen environment. Still, the process is largely self-serving as we acquire, gather, and cultivate. Never mind that life is about love of God and love of people.
The Western Church is full of smart people. We are learn-ed. We are thirsty for knowledge and information about everything under the sun including all things “spiritual.” We have built a virtual empire to house all that has become our “religion.” But it seems to me, our declining relevance among our own people and the utter irrelevance we have beyond the borders of our church campuses, has to drive us to re-evaluate. It has driven me to enter the dialogue with God, Bible open, mouth shut and ears tuned.
How do I protect myself from viewing the pursuit of spiritual understanding as an end unto itself? How do I ensure that my gathering of knowledge is a conscious step toward God… toward intimacy with Him? How do I take myself out of the center of my “spiritual development?”
These are positional questions. It’s the difference between eating for pleasure and eating because my body will stop working without sustenance. The first is self-centered, the latter takes into account something that’s outside of my appetites and essential to survival.
Better is the sight of the eyes
than the wandering of the appetite:
this also is vanity
and a striving after wind.
~ Ecclesiastes 6:9 ~
When I open my Bible, while I love to learn and “get smarter,” I am looking for God. The truth is, He is the Pursuer. I am meant to respond. I sit in my fourth chair, with The Word in my hands, and I seek to connect, to engage, to unite with God. The Word is a catalyst for that connection. I am hungry for it. I am designed to take it in so that I don’t work right unless I am.
Out of the fullness of that connection, I live in community with other Jesus Followers. Out of the vibrancy of that community, I reach beyond, with a cup of cold water in one hand and the Bread of Life in the other.