Judging by the mass quantity of books on spiritual living and spiritual growth being published, as though some invisible conveyor belt was constantly bringing new ones to the surface almost daily, one would hazard the thought that for the past two thousand years all who have come before us have missed the mark when it comes to spirituality. It would seem that for millennia the real secrets to a victorious life in Christ, to spiritual maturity and spiritual growth lay undiscovered, waiting, hoping, that one day a brave soul would unearth them. We’ve become enchanted with steps, three steps for this, six steps for that, twelve steps for the more difficult issues in our lives, and have come to believe that by dealing with a fragment, we are able to affect the whole.
I used to laugh at billboards and commercials that promised I would lose thirty pounds in three days with just one pill, or that I would have six pack abs if only I would connect some electrodes to my stomach and in essence electrocute myself repeatedly. The world is built around unrealistic expectations; we feed ourselves with fables and indulge in self-deception. So many want to believe the lie so vehemently, that all they need is an outlet, a reason, unrealistic as it might be. This pill will make me thin overnight? This brand of telephone will make me instantly popular? This toothpaste will make me sleep better at night? Bring it on. Small investments it would seem bring big rewards. At least that’s what they would like us to believe. Illusion is a growth industry in today’s age, and the biggest growth industry by far is spiritualized self-help, wherein one is promised all of life’s many problems will be solved with just minor changes in your life.
So did Paul and Peter, John and Luke, Matthew and Mark, and perhaps even Christ miss the mark when it came to discovering the keys to spiritual growth? Some Christian authors are so full of themselves, so blinded by the illusions of grandeur, and over confident concerning their own insights, that they really believe they’ve happened upon something new. Usually the key to unlocking the spiritual giant within you is something small, which will invariably change the course of your destiny. Whether forming a new habit, or adopting a mantra, understanding God in three easy steps, reading one of their recommended books, or repeating a prayer uttered by a someone in the Bible, men today are trying to sell us on the idea that just by doing one thing we can make our fragmented and compartmentalized lives whole again.
If that one thing which you are attempting to do in order to make your life whole again is not total surrender and obedience to God, if it is not the denial and crucifixion of the flesh and submission to the Father’s will, somewhere down the line the mantras and the new habits will invariably fail you. There are no simple solutions to complex problems; there are no shortcuts on the narrow path of faith.
We must reacquaint ourselves with the idea that something costs more, because it’s worth it, and some things don’t go on sale no matter how long you wait for the discount. A fulfilling life in Christ requires more than good habits, or a fragment of your life, it requires more than fellowship between certain hours of the morning, it requires our all, in perpetuity. The life of faith is all consuming, either we surrender ourselves in totality to it, or we are not in the least bit surrendered. The life of faith is more complex than some author lets on, or leads us to believe. It is not an interconnected patchwork of good habits, but a whole, un fragmented and must be approached as such.
As human beings we were created in such a way, that even our bodies tell us we cannot ensure the entire body’s physical health just by clipping our toenails. We are a whole, and as such can only function as whole. We cannot surrender one area of our lives to God, and expect our entire lives to undergo some spiritual domino effect. We cannot say Lord I surrender my finances to you, but I can take care of everything else. God does not deal in half measures; He does not make deals or give in to the flesh’s demands to have control. We either surrender and submit wholly, or we are as rebellious and disobedient children.
So is this newly discovered revelation? Are all these books that promise to unlock your spirituality worth the paper they are printed on? Hardly. Just because we borrow meditative techniques, which had their genesis back in the pagan times, beginning with the Greeks, building our foundation on existential thought in the context of time and space, it does not make it new, relevant, or Biblical.
It’s easy to rehash the philosophies of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, and put a spiritual twist on them. It’s easy to remove accountability from the individual and replace it with thoughts of an unconcerned deity who’s only desire is to give you money. It is much more difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is nothing new under the sun, that Paul, Peter, and the rest of the Apostles lived a spirituality far deeper than we can imagine, that placebos don’t work, that changing a habit doesn’t change your spiritual life, and that if we truly desire to be God’s children, we must surrender all to Him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.