Saturday, February 6, 2010

Involuntary Spirituality

I have hundreds of sincere friends who are dealing with issues from their past that they are desperately trying to get healing from. Some of them are going the "self-help" route, some are taking classes on spiritual healing. Some are in full time counseling, while others are following the traditional formulas by attending every church service they can with notebook in hand and a journal under their arm. I think everyone has a different method of dealing with painful memories in the past. To some degree, each and every one of us have been abused or hurt in one way or another.

Many Christians feel like they're waiting in line for an emotional healing that they probably won’t ever find. They become like the chronic overweight person who has tried everything from low-carb diets to overnight miracle pills, and after being let down half a million times, they finally collapse into a world of utter hopelessness. The mere mention of emotional healing catapults them into a world of self-loathing depression. They forgave every person they could remember being mad at. They’ve visited their inner child more times than they care to remember. They’ve quoted all the formula prayers, stood on all the right scriptures, and even had the in-house deliverance expert walk them towards the light, but come Monday morning they found themselves right back where they started.

Over the last twenty years of my life I have watched a growing trend in Christianity. If you attend some churches you would think that Christ came for the sole purpose of fixing us all and helping us all get over the pain of our past. He’s presented as the supernatural Dr. Phil and the ultimate life changer rather than the life GIVER. I honestly think that American Christianity has re-marketed Christ to appeal to the masses of emotionally wounded people in the world. We have used people’s issues and spiritual ailments as hooks to draw them into our churches and ministries, by making statements that simply are not true and promises that we can’t possible fulfill. We market Jesus as the "inner healer," whose healing formula is given only to the leaders or the super spiritual people above us. We create a mob of emotionally broken people who hobble from one service to the next hoping to finally persuade Jesus to give them the emotional healing they so desperately need. When it doesn’t happen, they’ve been trained and programmed to blame themselves. Over time, that self-blame eventually drives people even deeper into emotional brokenness and dysfunction then they were to begin with.

One of my close friends has read every spiritual healing book on the market. She’s attended conferences, listened to teaching series and she’s even written the world’s most famous healing evangelists in an effort to get her healing from the past. The day she and I met I could immediately tell that in her mind the purpose of our meeting was to hopefully find that healing. That had become the purpose of her life, the only thing she ever talked about when it came to spirituality. She thought that perhaps if she met with me, I could give her the exact formula that would finally detonate the power of God and give her the healing she had sought her entire adult life.

I told this young lady what I want to say to every person like her who is reading this article.

When you cut your finger, you wash it out and put a band-aid on it. Once that simple act is completed do you sit around and try to figure out ways to get it to heal? Of course not. Nothing you do beyond those initial first few steps will make any difference in the healing process. You won’t speed it up or slow it down. You can read books on cut-healing and goto cut-healing conferences, but in the end, all that energy is a waste of time because your cut will heal itself with or without your help.

God created this healing capacity within each and every one of us. We don’t do silly things like read books and call experts when we scrape or cut ourselves. We don’t squint our eyes and grit our teeth trying as hard as we can for a healing because we know that healing was created within us and it happens on its own.

Christianity is known for taking the things that happen naturally in the course of life and claiming authority over them. Then, when what would have happened on its own, happens; we claim responsibility and call ourselves powerful. If we would just learn to keep our noses out of the areas in life where we are not needed, we might find that Christianity is amazingly easy. I have come to believe that 90% of the stress and difficulty in the modern day Christian life, is self induced. We are praying about things that don’t need prayer. We’re claiming authority over things that don’t need our authority and leadership. We spend our time asking God for things that aren’t even on the menu and we spend all our faith on things that happen naturally.

Several years ago I found myself awake at about 2:00am, and I couldn’t get back to sleep. As I laid in bed listening to my wife snore away, I began to listen to my breathing patterns. Something didn’t sound right when I would inhale. I began to get worried that I wasn't getting enough oxygen, so I started to nervously monitor my intake of air for the next several hours. By 5:00am I was convinced that I needed to be taken to the hospital. My lips were numb and I was having chest pains. I felt dizzy and fear was literally pulsing through my body to the point where I could hear my heart beating out loud. I went to wake Angie up and just before I did, I got this revelation. It was probably just a thought, but looking back on it today I definitely think it was revelation.

“Don’t monitor your breathing. That’s something that happens on its own.”

I am not kidding you. In less than five minutes I was completely back to normal and snoring in unison next to my lovely wife. Breathing is an involuntary action that the body does completely on its own. The decision to monitor it and take authority over it, only led to panic and disaster.

This is precisely what Christians have been taught to do with most of the AUTOMATIC functions in life.

We think it’s precious and adorable when a four-year-old child clinches her fists and
scrunches her face because she is “trying to grow.” It’s funny because adults know that you can’t “try” to grow. Growing happens naturally over time and completely on its own. Ironically, I can visit almost every Christian church in Arizona and find full grown adults doing the exact same thing concerning their spiritual growth. Like naive little children, we scrunch our faces and clinch our fists during prayer, “trying” with every spiritual muscle we have to grow. We talk obsessively about growing in the Lord. We ask each other what they’re doing to grow in the Lord. We tell people that if they aren’t growing they need to be doing this and thus. We pride ourselves in saying that spiritual growth is the number one thing our church or ministry cares about. Silly, silly, silly, and it’s not nearly as cute when we do it as it is when a four-year-old child does it.

As Christians we have a responsibility to LIVE LIFE. Our life is set up by God Himself in a way that naturally brings forth things like inner healing, growth and maturity. These things are the responsibility of God; NOT US. I honestly believe that we’ve driven ourselves crazy because in our own arrogance and unwillingness to enter into life, we’ve hijacked God’s responsibilities and have foolishly depended upon ourselves to carry them through.

I had a pastor tell me once that he was committed to my spiritual growth. I told him thanks but that makes about as much sense as me committing myself to his fingernail growth. I just think there are better things in life to commit ourselves to, especially when growth happens by itself. We neglect things where we actually can make a difference, and then pay special attention to the very things that don’t need our attention at all.

I think the average Christian needs to take a course in “involuntary spirituality.” We need to get reacquainted with what happens on its own and what actually requires our assistance. I think most people would be surprised and relieved if they knew the truth. We could finally leave things like salvation to God rather than take it upon ourselves to “get people saved.” If you need an inner healing, just know in your heart that it’s happening. You can’t make it happen any faster than you can heal your finger if you cut it. YOU WILL HEAL! Know that and live life. YOU WILL GROW! Nothing you do will make yourself grow any faster. Growing isn’t up to us; it’s up to God.

I honestly have come to believe that the reason why Christianity has focused so much on this ridiculous stuff is because it’s a subconscious way of avoiding life and intimacy with God. I think our religion has made Him so unattractive and detestable, that we’ll stand outside and count blades of grass in the lawn just to get out of being alone with Him. I think it’s a combination of us not wanting to be close to him, and us feeling like He’s going to abandon us. Part of the grace and love message is about getting a proper view of who He really is. Once you get that, you look back at your life and laugh at yourself for all the silly stuff you did. I think I’ve dropped more stuff off of my to-do list since I’ve become a Free Believer than I ever thought possible. The last time I looked at that list I think there was only two things;

Love God and love people.

From Darin Hufford - The Lord Your God is in Your Midst - Free e-book


Anonymous said...

This is a good essay, but if any of this is ridiculous, it's because all this stuff is what we've been led to believe we need to heal. I do people who are really hurting, and need help processing the pain. Healing is not automatic. There are things we can do to thwart that healing. But healing comes through an intimate knowledge of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

I do "know" ....I meant to say

Sisterlisa said...

Amen! Live life naturally. Fruit grows naturally as life is absorbed through the roots that are grounded in the earth. He is the Life. Die to self and He naturally manifests through us. Great article.