We are called to be spiritual not mystical

Church bulletin:

Christians are by definition spiritual people. If we are not spiritual, we are not Christian. What do I mean by spiritual? Spirituality is the point of contact between the human and the divine. While we are physical and finite creatures we were made with the capacity to commune with the infinite and transcendent God. That communion is actuated when we are indwelt by God’s Spirit at the moment of conversion. Apart from conversion and the life of the Spirit within, we remain spiritually dead. It is in this capacity for communion with God that we differ from the animals (among other things). Animals are not spiritual beings in that they were not created to interact with God as we are. They cannot be indwelt by His Spirit.

There are two ways in which Christian spirituality plays out in day-to-day life.

Firstly, through God’s Word. The Bible is the medium by which God communicates to us. Meditation is the practice of thinking over and ruminating upon truth. We do this as we read scripture and books which explain scripture, as we sing Biblical truth in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as we reflect upon sermons, as we discuss truth with family and friends. It’s as we engage with scripture that God impresses truth upon our hearts by His Spirit. For this reason the Spirit is called the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). By the Spirit we go beyond merely hearing with the ears to hearing in the inner man.

Secondly, by responding to God’s Word in prayer and song (singing is poetic prayer presented in a tune). God speaks to us through scripture and we in turn speak to Him as we lift up our hearts and voices. Just as the Spirit impresses truth within, so He also moves us to pray, thus we offer to God our thanksgiving, praises, supplications, lamentations, and confessions. There cannot be genuine prayer apart from the activity of the Spirit. 1Cor 12:3, “………no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” Gal 4:6, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” The unconverted also pray, but they do not do so with hearts transformed and energised by the Spirit of God.

Spirituality, however, is not the same thing as mysticism. Mysticism is misleading and deceptive. Mysticism is the belief that we should pursue and expect unmediated, direct encounters with God. This takes the form of hearing God speak audibly rather than biblically, receiving divine impressions and insights apart from scripture, experiencing visions. While it is true that God communicated directly to His prophets and apostles, it would be very unusual for Him to do so today – occasionally such occurrences have been documented historically, but they are not the norm. If it is God’s normal practice to interact directly with us, the authority and necessity of the Bible diminishes. The need for scriptural wisdom diminishes because He personally communicates wisdom, i.e., He reveals who we should marry, what job we should take, which house we should buy, etc. Accountability diminishes if we are acting upon a revelation given from heaven rather than the principles set forth in the Bible.

The time is coming when we will interact with Christ directly, but that time is not now. 1Co 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

Do not fall into the trap of supposing that you are missing out if you don’t have the experiences that others claim to have. Through the regular means of grace God is able to lift our spirts, thrill our hearts, strengthen us in weariness, overcome our fears and doubts, instruct our minds, impart wisdom, instill fear, chase away discouragement with joy and hope.

Do not overlook the ordinary in search of the sensational. True spirituality consists of meditation and prayer – God speaking to us through scripture, we speaking to Him from the heart.