I’m willing to bet it’s a common problem because I’ve heard about it, seen it and personally experience it: spiritual constipation. I know it’s not the prettiest imagery available, but nothing seems quite as accurate either.
Massive consumption. Gluttony of the worst kind. Shameless spiritual intake that rots rather than produces any kind of fruit or action that is indicative of health. Am I the only one guilty of the disease of self-indulgence within the church? Am I the only one that battles the temptation to sit in my plush pew in order to cash in on the emotional high of a worship concert, followed by a pep talk about the greatness of God’s mercy despite my sin?
I don’t mean to imply that the above is wrong or bad. Truly. I do think, though, that I have grown overly comfortable in church. I do believe that I have come to see and use church for my own personal edification instead of what is ought to be: a time of repentance, refinement and rejoicing. Repentance for my waywardness. Refinement for my rough edges. And rejoicing for God’s mercy not in spite of my sin, but in light of it; for His love not because I sinned less this week than last, but because He saw me in my sin and chose my anyway.
An uncomfortable position of humility, perhaps, but in fact proper. And do you know what has obscured my vision of this necessity as of late? Do you know what has hindered my ability to see the beauty of atonement and sanctification that comes with being bowed low before an almighty God?
Me. I have gotten in my own way. Again.
I have been a consumer of all things good, Godly, spiritual, and right. I have gorged myself on church services and bible studies. I have eaten and drank my fill of every spiritual power source and outlet. And the result?
It feels like the coma after Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of eating enough for that meal in and of itself, you eat enough of that meal to tide you over until Thanksgiving of next year. You feel nauseous; rendered useless for the rest of the day because you must lay flat on the couch in order to breath. The thought of more food during the rest of your weekend vacation seems unbearable. Where would you put it? You couldn’t possibly need it. Cravings for anything else are stifled. Your taste buds are exhausted. Your jaw is still sore and you have blisters on your thumb and index fingers from holding your fork and knife to tightly because of your holiday excitement.
So despite the fact you may have eaten healthy, good-for-you foods, the over-indulgence has actually hindered your well-being. I find the same thing rings true with spiritual health–unless you work out and exercise what it is that you intake, it doesn’t do you any good, it serves you no purpose.
Memorizing scripture. Going to church every time the doors are opened. Participating in every available bible study. What benefit is it to you, the Lord, and the rest of the body of Christ if you take and take and take and give nothing back in return? Not only is it selfish, it’s unproductive. It’s a distraction to others who may be spiritually thirsty and in need of encouragement, love, affirmation, etc. but when they turn to you, you are too busy feeding yourself that you don’t stop to serve others who genuinely don’t know how to take care of themselves.
Why am I ranting about this? I’m not mad or upset. I’m not angry at anyone. It’s just that I listened to a sermon the other night and it rocked my world because it not-so-gently brought to my attention that this is my own problem.
Here’s are some of the key points that really caught my attention:
- In Romans, Paul is pleading with us to see our lives rightly—we were uniquely created by God and placed specifically, for a time and in a place, by God to be agents of reconciliation
- Everyone has a part—therefore everyone has a responsibility; a role that they must fulfill in order that bride of Christ may all that she is supposed to be.
Whatever gifts, talents, and abilities you possess but do not provide to others outside yourself is a sin; a burden rather than a blessing. The whole point and purpose behind our God ordained gifts is that we might use them to serve, love and build up the body of Christ. To deny the church, the body, of an integral part of itself, is to cause harm.
I don’t think that we typically think of it this way, but at the end of the day… that’s all it is.
Solution– get over yourself. I have to get over myself, my desires, wants, needs, etc. Because if we’re going to be honest, what do you suppose are the differences between my wants and the wants of others in the church? Not a whole lot.
So, instead of joining another bible study, I think I need to find a way to serve. To teach someone else something I have learned. And when the time comes that I am running dry, I am willing to wager that whoever it was that I loved and served in my overflow will return to me such love and support.