The Church is neither just a religion to be practiced nor just a spirituality to dabble in. The Church is the Body of Christ, a community of persons striving to know and encounter Jesus Christ. So prayer, going to church, and leading a spiritual life have the person of Christ Himself as their purpose, rather than abstract “enlightenment” or “being spiritual.”
Over the next few days or so, let’s take a look at three things many of us set up in the place of Christ, three idols we (perhaps unintentionally) use to distort our understanding of Christ and His Church.
- The idol of the emotions
For starters, being spiritual doesn’t just mean being more attuned to your emotions. Sometimes we might look for an emotional experience as evidence that we’ve had a spiritual experience (a feeling of having an epiphany, a dream, or being moved to tears). If this is what we’re looking for—just an emotional reaction—it’s no wonder so many people feel more spiritual out in nature than they do in the Liturgy.
If we’re not particularly excited about attending Liturgy, we might think we’re doing something wrong when we see others who seem to love church. If we’re bored in church, or we just don’t feel the butterflies that we see our friends having, we might think we’re missing something. But the Liturgy isn’t about having an “experience” in a one-dimensional, emotional sense; it’s about joining with the rest of the Body of Christ to worship God and to offer our whole lives to Him.
It’s about the deeper experience of communion, of a living relationship with the Lord.
Being spiritual means we are attuned to the Holy Spirit, not to our spirit. I saw a great tweet this week by @MichaelHorton_ which said, “The Holy Spirit is not a feeling, but a person—the third person of the Trinity.” We become more spiritual people by getting connected to, and having a relationship with, the Holy Spirit Himself.