Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Spirituality in the Real World

If you've ever thought that your daily routine and relationships are obstacles to real intimacy with God, you should check out this interview with Eugene Peterson at Christianitytoday.com. Peterson is the author of The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language and the recently released Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology.

When asked whether misunderstanding about the nature of spirituality even in Christian circles has anything to do with the New Age movement, Peterson replies:
The New Age stuff is old age. It's been around for a long time. It's a cheap shortcut to - I guess we have to use the word - spirituality. It avoids the ordinary, the everyday, the physical, the material. It's a form of Gnosticism, and it has a terrific appeal because it's a spirituality that doesn't have anything to do with doing the dishes or changing diapers or going to work. There's not much integration with work, people, sin, trouble, inconvenience.

I've been a pastor most of my life, for some 45 years. I love doing this. But to tell you the truth, the people who give me the most distress are those who come asking, "Pastor, how can I be spiritual?" Forget about being spiritual. How about loving your husband? Now that's a good place to start. But that's not what they're interested in. How about learning to love your kids, accept them the way they are?
Peterson also has some worthwhile thoughts about the dangers involved in using the language of the culture to interpret the gospel (e.g., speaking of "intimacy" with God).

1 comment:

Lee Jones said...

It is far more difficult to merely attempt to live the way Jesus instructed us. It is far easier to simply try to figure out the rules for being a Christian, and behave accordingly. As a friend once put it, we tend to collapse Grace into Law. Just loving my wife, truly loving her and giving myself up for her, is difficult. Yet I doubt that I could claim unfettered communion with God without loving my wife as He commanded.