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Spiritual Review

Taking some time on Mondays and Wednesdays to do a spiritual life check-up by using questions from businessman Fred Smith (Leadership Winter 1998). 

#2  Am I becoming less religious and more spiritual?  I never think of myself as very religious, but what does that mean anyway?  Some would think that becoming more religious would be a good thing.  I think that when someone speaks of being ‘religious’ in a pejorative sense that  what they mean is having a performance or an achievement based approach to God, and using the forms and structures of faith to measure that performance.  Is my relationship with God based on a checklist of behaviors, good ones that I do and bad ones that I don’t do.  Even, now, am I reviewing myself as a test of godliness?  Am I a good believer today or a not-so-good believer?  What’s my score?  What’s my grade?

I am not very religious in respect to sticking to the forms and structures, but I am easily oriented towards faith as a performance, even as a contest with myself to see how well I can do.  And I can always do better.  I easily imagine that God thinks that I can do much better, and that he would love me much more if I did.

Hmmm . . . how have I missed the gospel?  How do I so readily reject the grace of God?   How can I live more and more in the grace of God?  That becomes the better question.  Am I allowing God to love me?

Read the New Testament book of Galatians.  That’s the whole point.  Being spiritual is defined there as living by the Spirit of God, not by the ‘Law’, or the performance standards.  Paul asks, “Did you begin a life with God based on your performance, your achievement, or was it by accepting God’s love?  Did God give you his Spirit because you obeyed all the rules?”   (Galatians 3:2)

Am I becoming more spiritual in respect to having an open and honest relationship with God based on his love and grace?  I am fantastic at extending God’s grace to others.  I excel at it.  Can I extend it to myself.

#3  Does my family recognize the authenticity of my spirituality?

Now that’s a question that gets to the realities of my life.  One way I answer this question is by thinking about what happens in my family when I mess up.  Say I have a higher level of irritability than usual, and someone close pays for it.  I have enormous admiration for my teenage daughter, Molly, because she will throw a flag pretty quickly when I commit a foul (notice I didn’t say ‘if’ I commit a foul).  So, we have to deal with it right on the spot.  If I’m defensive or I counter with my own flag to throw her off, I’m’ not where I would like to be spiritually.  She appreciates it so much when I’m honest enough to listen, to apologize.  I know that my spiritual life is heading in the right direction when I care more about my family than myself, in little ways and big ways.

Lord, help me to be real with you and real with those closest to me.  Help me give up any pretense to spiritual performance, that I might thrive in your love and grace.  And may those closest taste only your grace from my life.  And may they be blessed.

Comments

  1. wow. I am so in awe of the communication you and Molly have that I forgot what I was gonna write. Wow. Very cool. Oh yeah, okay… whenever someone calls me religious “well, Bonnie is very religious.” I say “whooo, whoo, ‘I’ wouldn’t say that. I would say I try to have an active relationship with God.” An active relationship. I know I get on myself. Things like “I should know better.” Then its gets into ‘shoulds’ and that never goes well. I think I am always Way more upset with Myself then God is with me. He is just waiting for me to settle down and stop worrying, so he can love me some more.