c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: The Essence of Spirituality

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Essence of Spirituality

The essence of spirituality is to be like God.
Jesus said that God is spirit and, speaking of the resurrection, Paul wrote that Jesus became a life-giving spirit.  Similarly, Paul wrote that we no longer know Christ according to the flesh, acknowledging that he did come in the flesh but is no longer experienced that way.  Combating the Gnostic heresy John wrote that Jesus came in the flesh, though John is dualistic, the one who recorded the Lord’s words about God being spirit and we must be born again in the Spirit.
Many years ago a church official accused me of being an idolater for worshiping Jesus as God, co-equal with the Father and the Spirit in Trinitarian faith.  Fearing the same sin of idolatry Wolfhart Pannenberg, in JESUS, GOD AND MAN, stated that nowhere in Scripture is the Holy Spirit portrayed as a physical being.  Of course, Luke and others wrote that the Spirit came in the form of a dove.
But it is not idolatry to worship one that was briefly a man and then became a spiritual body that defies the laws of physics, though he still interacts with them via miracles.  It is not idolatry to worship the Spirit with the Father and Son, if the Spirit only briefly appeared for our sakes to anoint Jesus for ministry.
My point is that flesh, physicality, this material world is transitory.  Its form is passing away and our bodies will soon enough lie moldering in the grave.  Being God, it was not natural for Jesus to come in the form of sinful flesh.  We see in the Gospels his irritation with it and his desire to return to the Father.  He wanted the disciples to be glad that he was going home.  He promised that we would join him if we endured to the end.  If we are faithful he will raise us up to receive our spiritual bodies, too!
Since the carnal existence that we now share is transitory we must see this life as preparation for the next, becoming as much like God as possible now, at least to begin the process.
We are already spiritual beings, made in the image and likeness of God.  But because of sin that image is marred and we can hardly see our true selves.  But we begin to see, become enlightened, when we begin to discount the flesh and value the spiritual aspect of our nature.
I recently counseled a 50+ year-old man that has struggled with alcohol since he was 14.  Now the ravages of time, compounded by pollutions both of mind and body, has left him deeply depressed, suicidal, and asking questions that needed to be answered long ago.
He asked me why he has suffered so much.  I told him it was to demonstrate body/soul dualism and how the soul is more important than the body.  He was taken aback.  He had never heard that before, though he has been to church and AA meetings too many to count.
See, the body can become wracked with pain.  It can drive a man crazy with pain.  There is pain of heart and mind, as well, because of its association with the body.  But spirit is not touched by pain because it is not physical and has no need.
The way, then, to become more like God, more spiritual, is to have less need.  God needs nothing.  If one can contemplate that and relate to it as a beginning point of prayerful meditation then one can begin to develop a spiritual perspective.  Then the strength, peace, love, and joy of our freedom in Christ begins take root and will, in time, to bloom and grow, almost effortlessly, as the green grass springs forth and the flowers of the field open to the heavenly light.

No comments: