Defining spirituality is a very serious and controversial issue in a modern society that thrives on political manipulations and social alignment that frowns at anything that sounds discriminatory. Spirituality is also becoming very difficult to define or discuss among faith groups. The reasons are simple; while the politicians are seeking for votes, many faith group leaders are seeking for fame and numbers as an insignia of success. Success is being measured with extra-scriptural yardsticks among faith groups, and this makes the word spirituality subject to many interpretations in conversation and practice. This article will concentrate on the Christian faith to define spirituality.
Spirituality is simply an unadulterated faith in God, with a resolute determination to study the word of God and live by it. This position holds true in every area of the lives of the individuals who subscribe to it. Many people consider such a position and thinking as extreme since it challenges a lot of weird compromises that many people live comfortably with.
Spirituality is not just belonging to a faith group; it demands devotion and sacrifice on the part of people. For example, the Christian faith considers faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the word of God as spirituality. Being ethical is considered as an outflow of obedience to the word of God.
How to attain a spiritual state?
Attaining a spiritual state from the Christian perspective comes from accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour. It demands to study the Bible on a consistent basis and living a life devoted to prayer, love and acceptable service.
Spirituality is not abstract
Spiritual life is not an abstract thing as many falsely believe. It is measurable. (John 3:3-5; 2 Corinthian 13; Gal. 5:19.21) The parameters for measuring spirituality are from the word of God, the Bible. The Christian faith is clear in its definition of spirituality for all who are open to learning from the scriptures.
There is a great difference between spirituality, spiritual gifts and character. Spirituality is an attribute of God’s nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). It is acquired. Spiritual gifts are gifts of ability given to help the receiver serve with grace and character come after a consecration to the Lord. Character is a virtue that any man can develop through self-denial and discipline. You don’t need to be godly or subscribe to any faith group to have a sound character and sound moral standing. A great character exhibits great moral living and good work. Morality can be subjective, as what is judged as virtuous in one place may not be judged with the same weight in another place, even among faith groups. According to Ronald Dunn, “Our faith must be in God”. (Ronald Dunn,1995. “Don’t Just Sit there…Have Faith!”). Jesus said in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” (KJV)
What are the measuring parameters for spirituality?
The Scriptures are the parameters to measure spirituality, not moral instructions. It is not a societal norm that determines the spiritual state of faith members. It is not subject to a geographical location, economic status or social alignment. There is nothing like a Western or Southern Christianity. You can only have Christians in the West or Christians in the South; as every faith person (Christian) has just one set of standards.
It is wrong to consider poor people as spiritual and ridiculous to point to the rich as spiritual and especially favoured by God. The Scriptures are the parameters to measure spirituality, not the opinions of men. There are a lot of opinions that people use to further the growth of their groups which are unethical and manipulative.
Today, Christianity is highly patronised in that it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine what the real position is as far as godliness and spirituality are concerned. It has come to a situation where whatever gets the people to come to service are the right things and a lot of ridiculous things are being practised in many places as if the ultimate decision of the person God approves is now delegated to human beings. According to Roy Hession, in his book, “We Would See Jesus,” “So much has service become the centre of our thinking that very often a man’s rightness with God is judged by his success or otherwise in his Christian work.” (Roy Hession, 2008. “We Would See Jesus.” P.4)
The Scriptures are the parameters to measure spirituality, not organisational constitutions and policies. The Scriptures are the parameters to measure spirituality, not morality. The Scriptures are the parameters to measure spirituality, not feelings. How one feels is subjective and depends on external factors which can alter at any time.
Spirituality is born out of understanding and conviction. It is not a perfect state in itself; it is not an unalterable state of being in which people who attain it can sit back and live as they like without recourse to the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a constant work on human nature to make it conform to the image of God, that brings about spirituality.
The best way to demonstrate spirituality is through love. Love, however, is not a passive response to life. Love is not permitting lop-sidedness and ungodly compromises; it is showing real goodness while charting a right course.