Spiritual Hype or Depth?
Once I was trying to peel an onion but when I picked it up, I was surprised to find that it was hollow. The onion was rotten to its core though it still looked very nice on the outside. Is our spiritual life like this? Nice on the outside but rotten inside? I hope not. As our life gets busier, we are in a greater danger of neglecting our spiritual life. We may not even pay attention to it, thinking that it is alright.
Generally speaking, there are three groups of people. The first group are those who are growing and maturing in the Lord. The second group are the nominal Christians. They are only Christians in name, not concerned about obeying the Lord but still living their own carnal life. The third group is the most worrying group. They are those who seem spiritual but may not really be. They may be very hyped up with their Christian life but may not have depth. Of course, only the Lord and ourselves know which group we belong to.
There are many things in the Christian life that we can get hyped up with. We can get hyped up with serving God. Some people are so busy serving God that they neglect their spiritual life. There are also those who get hyped up by ‘new’ teachings. They especially like to hear about things like numerology and symbolism; certain things we are not sure what the Bible really meant or intended. We can also get hyped up by prayers. We can pray in tongues and pray aloud and passionately but we do not pay attention to the proper interpretation of God’s word, as such we can end up distorting the meaning of God’s word. One example is the way people are praying for prosperity. Another example was about a prayer group deducing from the date and time of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing to claim that he was saved. Some others are hyped up about their leaders. This usually happens in Charismatic churches where the charisma of the founding pastors command unreserved obedience. They are often treated as though they are gods. Members seldom question whether their leaders are doing the right thing. Many others are hyped up by prophecies, signs and wonders. They pay more attention to prophecies by the present day ‘prophets’ than Word of God in the Bible and seek after the manifestations of God more than obeying the word of God. A recent example would be seeking after gold dust and gems. Finally, there are those who are hyped up by spiritual experiences. These are not the usual testimonies about how we all can experience God or receive answers from God, instead their focus are on experiences such as going to heaven and hell, or certain near-death experiences which are not normative. I had heard about a church preaching and conducting Bible study solely based on all these strange encounters. Certainly, these can make us feel excited, but these should not be the anchor point of our faith.
Though many of these practices may not be totally wrong (some certainly good if practiced correctly), but we cannot say that they are surely right too. Some of these experiences are extra-biblical and subjective. We must be careful lest we drift away from God when we seek after these more than after God Himself. Though I myself come from a charismatic background, I caution all of us against various kinds of spiritual hypes but instead aim to build depth in our relationship with God through the word of God. My advice is to focus more on objective truth that is derived from the proper interpretation of God’s word rather than subjective truth that usually come from experiences and manifestations though I know that they can be so real.
The bottom line is that our understanding of God must always be based on the Word of God and not on experience alone. We should always seek God Himself rather than manifestations of God. We need to grow to be more like Him and be rooted in Him and His word. Remember that hyped-up spirituality will not make us more spiritual; it only make us look spiritual.