These days, dematerialized, elitist self-spiritualities abound. Neo-Gnostic connoisseurs of the sublime are happy to let the unenlightened in on the secret: Spirituality without the inconvenience of creation, sin, morality, people we don’t like, and (most attractive of all) God. What a deal! A spiritual inside track without the messiness of matter. Americans were shown the way (unfortunately) by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Standing on the bare ground—my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.” I can feel my feet leaving the ground! Lies, all lies.
"A primary task of the community of Jesus is to maintain this lifelong cultivation of love in all the messiness of its families, neighborhoods, congregations, and missions. Life is intricate, demanding, glorious, deeply human, and God-honoring, but--and here's the thing--never a finished product, never an accomplishment, always flawed in some degree or other. So why define our identity in terms that can never be satisfied? There are so many easier ways to give meaning and significance to our human condition: giving assent to a creed or keeping a prescribed moral code are the most common in congregations. . . . Belief and behavior are essential, but as the defining mark of the Christian they lack one thing--relationship. They are both prone to abstractions or programs. Abstractions (learning right belief) are good; programs (learning right behavior) are good; but it is also possible to master the abstractions and carry out the programs impersonally. In fact, it is far easier if done impersonally."
Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places
Our goal: Holiness and Fear-of-the-Lord, cultivated by personal prayer and corporate worship, practiced in the context of the messiness that comes with particular places and particular people.