Many people consider themselves to be spiritual, but what actually does that mean? There are many forms of “spirituality” in the world. Are they all valid and equal? I guess we must each make up our mind in regards to that, but I would hope our desire would ultimately be to discover what is true.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) but by me” (John 14:6). Scripture speaks of a true spirituality and a deep spiritual union with God that is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

The book of Colossians gives us a picture of what an authentic spiritual life is about: “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2).

It all begins with Jesus. True spiritual life doesn’t begin by looking within, but rather by bowing low and looking up. Through the cross of Christ, our sins have been taken away, and we have been buried with Christ. We have also been made one with Christ through His Spirit, and raised with Christ into a new life. Having been raised with Jesus, the believer is now called to set their heart and mind upon Jesus Christ. True spirituality is about the pursuit of Jesus. It is about loving Jesus, following Jesus, obeying Jesus and seeking for more of Jesus.

Jesus has done everything for us. Everything we need is found in Him. It all boils down to the person of Jesus Christ. Any other pursuit is false. You may disagree and be offended by that statement, but that is biblical truth. The reality, however, is that we often fall for cheap substitutes in our quest for spirituality.

Many people mistake knowledge for spirituality. You can have a lot of religious knowledge, even knowledge of the Bible. Knowledge is great, but it does not necessarily lead you into a full relationship with Christ.

Many substitute legalism for true faith. Legalism is nothing more than a bunch of rules and religious duties. Many people go to church every week, give money, read the Bible and some even go to church on Wednesday night, which is the true test for whether someone has the love of God in their heart (just kidding).

All of these activities may be helpful and good, but these rules and duties do not make us more spiritual. Unless we draw closer to Christ, these duties are empty and powerless. Rules without a relationship to Christ only leads to pride or rebellion.

Some believe that emotions are the key to spirituality. Truly spiritual people are passionate and fiery according to this line of thought. I am all for great emotions and think they can be a great blessing in our walk with God. Many people have emotional religious experiences, but that does not make them truly spiritual. Emotions do not necessarily lead a person into deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ.

Some people look to spiritual experiences as the barometer of spirituality. Have you ever been around someone that had a powerful spiritual experience and they wanted everyone else to have the same exact experience as they did? Just because you had a powerful experience with God doesn’t mean everyone else has to have the same encounter. You never want to make a personal encounter with Christ become higher than Christ himself. True spirituality is about seeking Christ fully and allowing Him to reveal Himself as He chooses. You can’t force your experience on anyone else.

Last of all, people often substitute sacramentalism for Jesus. This tendency causes people to elevate religious ritual above Christ himself. People do this through thinking that the very act of communion itself makes them more spiritual. Some think baptism makes them more fit for heaven. Others believe that having a bishop or high ranking church official lay hands on them in prayer makes them more spiritually significant. These may be good things, but only as they help us draw close to Christ. A religious ritual has no power or grace unless we participate in faith with a desire to draw close to Christ.

Jesus Christ is the bottom line of all true Christian spirituality. If you substitute anything else for Christ, then you have fallen for a cheap substitute. Seek Christ above all! And that’s the Word.

The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at david@sscommunitychurch.org or 634-2960.

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