While in Atlanta’s airport waiting for a ride, I read the July/August issue of Group Magazine. It really spoke to me about the culture’s misunderstanding of what it means to be spiritual. Rick Lawrence, Group‘s editor, wrote about the dangers of confusing the Spirit with religious, mystical experiences.
Rick told the story about how this one student was going to this one university because it was a “really spiritual campus.” When asked to explain what he meant, the student said that the students care for each other and are committed to going to church even if they party on Friday and Saturday nights.
Rick wrote, “When he said the word ‘spiritual,’ the friends who were standing near him nodded their heads with respect and something like gravity – they understood that ‘spiritual’ is part of what makes something cool today.”
The column went on to highlight how spiritual things are increasingly in vogue although many strip God from it. In a recent issue of O, Oprah’s magazine, an article covered the topic of faith. It described faith as a a commodity – as a God-neutral practice for living a spiritual life.
This caused me to pause and ask, “Can you really be Spiritual without Jesus?” I believe the answer is NO. Many people confuse mysticism, positive thinking and evil spirits for godly spiritual experiences.
Rick concluded that the cross is essential for true spirituality as he mulled over his experiences with our culture’s grasp to understand the Spirit. He wrote, “The diabolic momentum of our culture is washing away the core of Christ-following – the person of Jesus – while carefully leaving its outer shell – ‘spiritual’ stuff that can be flexibly molded to any belief ( or nonbelief) system kids choose. ”
Unfortunately, Rick is right that many people favor spirituality as long as they can avoid Jesus and His cross. Spirituality tends to lose its coolness when it comes in contact with the radical message of a Gospel that costs everything to gain Christ.