Can’t Buy the Kingdom of God

There is a virus that seeks to hijack healthy spirituality. In effect, it makes not only our faith very small, but it makes us smaller as people. The difficulty is that this virus masquerades as a form of godliness, and it works it's toxicity subtlely at first and before we know it we are scratching our heads wondering why we feel so disconnected.

Like the cultural disease of chronic, indiscriminate consumption, consumptive spirituality approaches spirituality as something to be obtained, owned, controlled and then leveraged. This positions us in the unhealthy place of determining our place in the imaginary pecking order of God and what we are therefore entitled to. Perhaps the great danger is we believe that we are in fact alone in control of our relationship with God. Then we relate to God as we relate to any other service provider. God is something to be managed and manipulated in order to secure what we desire. God becomes a means to our end.

When possession is the paradigm through which we operate, discipleship becomes estranged from a healthy life-giving relationship with God. Often our discipleship becomes the acquisition of the "right" information, spiritual formulas, programs, memberships, and tithing to ensure that we remain in control of our faith. It is our good ol' western work ethic that we must work hard to earn and maintain our spirituality however we then begin to believe God owes us something in return.

A common symptom of this is seeing faith as a commodity that we exchange for the "goodies" of God. The idea being that if we can just believe hard enough that God is obligated to do whatever we want. Unfortunately, this kind of approach is one of economic exchange not the Kingdom currency of love. The Kingdom is not quid pro quo.

Love is much more about giving and receiving gift rather than concepts like earning, deserving. In the Kingdom, God is not obligated to do anything other than be who God is. Likewise, we are not obligated to do anything for God's love, or for that matter to respond to it. However, as we genuinely experience the transforming love of God, it builds capacity in us that we can respond to God's love with love - not out of obligation but because He loves us first.

The challenge then is when we see spirituality as something to be possessed and controlled we add an unhealthy smudge into the relationship which often leads to self-righteousness along with its judgements, jealousy, bitterness and condemnation of others. When we see our spirituality as something we have earned it denatures faith from Kingdom love and grace to one of exchange, and there is simply no exchange rate for that kind of currency in the Kingdom of God.  In the context of healthy maturing intimacy with God, our spirituality is progressive, in the act of becoming (becoming Christ-like) or the idea of journey. This journey or growing in maturity looks a lot like a growing awareness of the faithfulness of God, and we learn to respond in kind.

Acts819The true spiritual director directs our path, helps rerouted us when we get lost in one of our detours and heals us from the contusions of the journey of life. It is the gift and work of the Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, to shape us into the image of Christ. In doing so, He wastes nothing. God uses every part of our story towards our healing. He redeems and recycles the shadows, false selfs, and exiled parts of us and re-integrate them in a healthy way for our wholeness.

We can see the Spiritual journey is not ours alone, that we are not Masters of our own destiny rather it is the Spirit that works within us, renovating us, releasing the divine image, our divine DNA. Our role and response is to say Yes.  A series of deliberate yes's - trusting consent to each divine leading and then fall fearlessly into the loving arms of love Himself.

This is called surrender but not as one who surrenders under threat but more like the giving of our self as a gift to the original gift giver - who gives freely of Her/Himself at the beginning of your journey. Even before you even recognized the Gift of God as gift, before you earned it, before you prayed the right prayer or believed the right things or belonged to the right group.

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2 Responses

  1. Richard Broadbent
    “There is a virus that seeks to hijack healthy spirituality. In effect, it makes not only our faith very small, but it makes us smaller as people. The difficulty is that this virus masquerades as a form of godliness, and it works it’s toxicity subtlety at first and before we know it we are scratching our heads wondering why we feel so disconnected.” In my opinion, this is exactly what Jesus was warning his disciple of, Beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees. That which has infected them is the same parasite working in your flesh as well. Most Christians would shake their heads in disbelief, thinking I was full of shit, but then again, I’m not into want to make friends and manipulate people :)
  2. Richard Broadbent
    "A common symptom of this is seeing faith as a commodity that we exchange for the “goodies” of God. The idea being that if we can just believe hard enough that God is obligated to do whatever we want. Unfortunately, this kind of approach is one of economic exchange not the Kingdom currency of love. The Kingdom is not quid pro quo.” It’s a real shocker to discover that my personal sense of happiness isn’t God top priority, my fully growing up, is!

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