Monday, 7 April 2014

Lent day 32 - real spirituality

People prefer to say they are spiritual rather than religious. It's a nice way of emphasizing the rigidity of formalized religion; it's legalism, calcification and hypocrisy.

That said, spirituality can be so free wheeling, so supermarket like in its selection of this and that, that is can be feelgood and faithlite, focused on self and not other.

In John 16:5-33, Jesus talks about his departure, and the advocate, the Holy Spirit (verses 7-11; NASB)

Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

So Jesus goes away but sends the Advocate. As an advocate for the believer, there is also an adversarial role against the world - society against God.

  1. Sin is denial of who Jesus is and refusal to believe in him. This isn't very PC or pluralistic. In the first place, Jesus was speaking of 'the Jews', by which John means Jerusalemites as opposed to many of the Galileans who followed Jesus. The people of Christ are the people of the Spirit. Of course, this is open to all.
  2. Jesus goes to the Father, and the Advocate convicts the world about righteousness. I wonder here is justice is a better reading (they have the same Greek root). Jesus is truly the King of Israel. His death at the hands of 'the Jews' was unjust. Jesus is the just ruler - and this incorporates but righteousness in the usual religious sense, but also justice. People of the Spirit are righteous and just.
  3. Judgement here is about the ruler of the world. John is very clear that the cross is a defeat of the powers of darkness. This might be downplayed today, and it is right not to see a demon in every cold or unfortunate incident. It is also unbiblical to downplay the demonic, regardless of how wary we need to be about how we speak of this. The defeat of the ruler of this world should give us comfort - the war is won even if battles rage on.
So Christian Spirituality is sin denying, Jesus affirming, just and righteous, and in some sense triumphant - though not arrogant. This is concrete, not vague; biblically grounded, not new age; humble, not arrogant; thankful, not independent.

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