Wednesday, June 10, 2015

True Spirituality (part 2)

How do you know you are a spiritual person? I met a man who said he was Christian because he carried a Bible presented to him as a child--it even had his name in it! Spirituality is not constructed of human accomplishment and recognition.


Look carefully at how Paul describes his ministry: triumphant (2 Cor 2:14); the fragrance of Christ in every place (2 Cor 2:15); sincere (2 Cor 2:16). The Corinthian church had the idea that Paul was prideful, bragging about his personal accomplishments in ministry. Are these the words of a self-made man or are these the words of a transformed man?

Paul asks plainly, “do we begin again to commend ourselves?” (2 Cor 3:1). How easy it is to fall into the trap of human accomplishment when it comes to our spirituality. If my spirituality depends on my “say-so”, then I believe the lie that I can create my own destiny.

Here’s how I know I can’t create my own destiny: I can’t control my own body functions. Can you stop yourself from blinking? You prove my point if you nod off during a church service. How much thought do you put into liver function? The body has a mind of its own doesn’t it?

Paul is not playing the spiritual one-upmanship game, building himself up to the Corinthians all over again because of self-made spirituality. You know the games:
  • “How many people did YOU lead to Christ?”
  • “How’s your Bible reading going? I read three chapters before breakfast.”
  • “Hey brother! How long did you pray today?” 

Paul writes, “Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you?” (2 Cor 3:1).
Paul’s personal and public life does not depend on references, what others say about him. Now let’s not be too quick to dismiss this because there is a time and place for references, but when it comes to spirituality, human references are out of place. Boastful Jewish leaders carry long letters of recommendation.

A few years back I was invited to speak at a week-long Pastor’s conference in Kenya, Africa. I was introduced to the congregation and gave my first lecture of the week. At the end of the lecture I opened the floor for questions. An elderly man in the back raised his hand and asked “who are you? why should we listen?” He was not interested in my credentials--he wanted to know my testimony!

Paul does something interesting: he produces an unusual credential that not only affirms his ministry, but also helps us understand the source of true spirituality. He produces a letter of approval that the Corinthians cannot deny or refute, like holding up a mirror.

We will take a look at this unusual credential next week.

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