Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spiritually Dangerous

Last night, I was watching CSI. In this episode, a crew of ghost hunters goes into an abandoned slaughter house to make contact with the ghosts haunt in it; however, one of the ghost hunters ends up being murdered there. As the story unfolds, it tells that Greg’s deceased grandmother was a psychic, and Greg believes that he inherited the psychic power. Greg is so eager to find out if he’s really got such talent that it worried CSI Morgan, and she tells Greg how crazy it makes him sound. But of course, as a happy CSI family, Morgan ends up apologizing to Greg, saying that there should be room for a spiritual side.

Yes, I think CSI Morgan is right, there should be room for a spiritual side. However, it troubled me that it seems to some people, the exploration of spirituality is defined by their abilities to sense and to communicate with the dead and the evil beings, and not realizing where this pursuit is leading them to. I found this spiritually dangerous for two reasons – One, the only direction which the pursuit of the dead and the evil beings could lead to is darkness, because that is where they belong. Two, often times this pursuit of spirituality has more to do with pride than about inner peace and growth. It’s all about MY power and MY ability. Some people need such talent to make themselves feel special.

This is the same mistake we Christians sometimes make. Too often we feel the need to think that we possess some special powers to prove that we are specially loved by God, and to feel that we are given a bigger mission than our brothers and sisters are. Some Christians spend their entire life waiting for this special big mission, and despite any mission that doesn’t seem big enough. On the other hand, some Christians choose to dive into almost every ministry and church event to gain God’s approval and favor. These are spiritually dangerous, too, because they don’t conform to the teaching of the Scripture.

Consider first, the teaching of Jesus when James and John went to Him to request for the seats in heaven at His left and right. In Mark 10, James and John said bluntly to Jesus, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” As two of Jesus’ three best buddies, I assume James and John must felt that they had some special privileges to ask for these special heavenly positions. But in response, Jesus taught them about servanthood. God does not play favoritism. He loves His children all the same. He grants each of us different gifts, and prepares each for different ministries according to the different purposes He has in mind for each of us. If not even Jesus’ best buddies were specially favored, who are we to think that we are more loved than our brothers and sisters.

The spiritual gifts and ministries have nothing to do with authority; rather, they have everything to do with servanthood. But does that mean the more we do, the more favor we could gain from God? Consider then, the story of Martha and Mary. When Martha came and demanded Mary to join her with all the busy work, why did Jesus prefer Martha joining Mary to hang out with Him, rather than letting her practice servanthood? As Jesus points out in Luke 10, Mary has chosen what is better. What is better is to spend time with God, and to get to know God better. When Mary was hanging out with Jesus, she was building her relationship with God, and spending time with God helps her to know God better.

When we serve, our servanthood should flow from our relationship with God, and be founded on our knowledge of Him. Because we know God, know His heart, and know that He’s beautiful, and we want to be close to Him, and be like Him; and this desire motivates our action to follow our knowledge of Him. For new Christians, we practice servanthood by asking What Would Jesus Do, but as we grow, we should seek to align our actions with our knowledge of God by asking Why Would Jesus Do So. Even when it means to slow down and spend time to discern how, what and when to cooperate with God in His work.

All these cannot be done without the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we could hardly grasp the teachings of the Scripture, we would lack the insight of who God is, we would be disoriented, we would not be able to discern God’s will, and we could hardly accomplish God’s work.  This is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul understands that none of his achievement was accomplished through his own power and ability. Through the Holy Spirit, God made Paul sufficient for His work, and therefore, Paul knows that the weaker he gets, the more God is able to use him. We are not the ones who possess the divine power, insight and wisdom, but rather the Holy Spirit is.

All in all, we know the origin of the Spirit that dwells in us when it conforms to the teaching of the Scripture. We can pursue it with confidence because we know that it leads to God. It is important that we pursue the relationship and knowledge of God not only because it brings the peace and spiritual growth to our hearts, but also because it brings God’s blessings to the world through us.

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