A few weeks ago my friend Rick Bayer at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship asked if I would speak there on Sunday July 26th, 2009. I of course accepted with great enthusiasm but was unsure to what I should speak on. He left the book wide open to me and I was nervous as to how I might speak or what I should say after not having done so for quit awhile. Or so it seems anyway. It wasn't to long after that that I was having a conversation with a close friend in our near by Second Cup with regards to our ministry plans in Re:Genesus in the fall. I was explaining a number of the themes and avenues to our gathering and used the word spirituality to describe how we approach themes of faith while reaching out to the people who face challenges or disabilities in our community. It was in that moment that he interrupted me expressing a mistrust or grievance against Christians using or being involved with a word or activity such as spirituality.
To be honest, it took me off guard and I was puzzled by my friend's fear towards Christians expressing spirituality. The more I thought about it and looked at the number of examples where the church here in North America has become increasingly more resistant to the idea of spirituality being a part of the Christian faith I was alarmed at the loss which we faced in our relationship to Jesus and the disconnect it seemed to have with Jesus' call to be born again in water and in Spirit (John 3:1-15).
At the same time I could see why so many would be afraid of spirituality when you consider the times religion has been abused as a sense of power and led to horrible misrepresentations of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. My thoughts were of Lee Camp's statement "'Jesus is Lord' is a radical claim, one that is ultimately rooted in questions of allegiance, of ultimate authority, of the ultimate norm and standard for human life. Instead, Christianity has often sought to ally itself comfortably with allegiance to other authorities, be they political, economical, cultural, or ethnic."
You don't have to go back as far as the dark ages to see how the church or Christianity has been abused through misplaced spirituality. As near as the 1990's and early 2000's we can see the murderous practices and abuses of such powers in such groups as the LRA in Uganda and South Africa.
At the same time here in North America spirituality has been under a different form of social attack; namely the practices of economic abuses and consumeristic excess. To some extent I think we can place the blame on New Age theology where the individual bases his or her "spirituality" on whatever they feel fits. I think of the many experiences Bonnie and I had last September at the Body, Soul, and Spirit Expo here in Calgary and it was not long before we understood; spirituality was based and measured upon how much you are willing to spend. L. Ron Hubbard himself as the founder of Scientology was quoted famously for his statement, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." (Time Magazine April 5th, 1976 Page 57)
At the same time we cannot exclude the Christian church from there own misrepresentations of spirituality. The health and wealth gospel has had great damages on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We can look at the great persecutions of the church in China and see how they have neither health nor wealthy church budgets and yet it is considered one of the fastest growing movements of today.
With the consideration of these issues I suppose I cannot argue my friends reasoning for being afraid of or disliking Christianity being involved with such a word as spirituality. Yet I still ask the question if I am born again in water and sprit; what does my spirituality look like? What is Christian Spirituality?
And there you have it. This upcoming Sunday July 26th, 2009 I will be speaking at Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship in SE Calgary on the Rebirth of Christian Spirituality. I would love to have you come along for the journey!