My husband and I are wrestling with a very big decision at the moment and I have been really struggling to find a peace one way or another. Tonight, as I went to the Word, I discovered that lately, my spirituality hasn’t been all that spiritual; no wonder I can’t make my mind up. Essentially, when Paul wrote to Timothy, the first chapter of his letter addressed those members of the Ephesian Church who had gotten themselves caught up in false spirituality. Distinguishing between true and false spirituality really hasn’t been my strong point lately. Although I have spent a lot of time talking ABOUT God and church, ministry and ‘doing’ for God have absolutely dominated my schedule, I have found my spirit to be feeling tired and broken. I have neglected my true spirituality: time spent in the presence of my father. True and false spirituality can, I believe, be distinguished by whether one feels added unto, or detracted from, as a result.
Paul regards Timothy’s role to be to remain exactly where he is, through consistency and example, gently correct those who have been waylaid by false spirituality. Above all, Paul encourages his disciple to continue to demonstrate love and being real with people. The leaders in the Ephesian church have become obsessed with discovering what they regarded to be secret codes and patterns in the Old Testament, rather than sharing the Gospel. This reminds me of some of the long and complex debates around creation and evolution that some believers are prone to getting sucked into. These conversations may be very intriguing, but it is unlikely that you will ever argue someone to salvation without offering the Gospel (IMHO).
Paul is understanding of those who have become confused in their spiritual focus, probably because of his background. Before his dramatic conversion, Paul was an especially zealous Jew and great persecutor of Christians, whom he regarded to be deserters of the Jewish faith. So Paul understood what it meant to become obsessed with the teachings of the Law of the Old Testament and he knew that this obsession could blind one to the truth and urgency of the Gospel, much the same as I’ve been finding my busyness with the things of God to be crowding out time actually spent with God. Thankfully, even more so than Paul and Timothy, God is patient and graceful; always wanting the best for us and leading us back to the truth.
We live in a world where the theoretical and hypothetical are incredibly highly regarded. Ethical boundaries are seen as relative and seem to be constantly shifting. If our spirituality exists only as a theoretical framework and not as a practice and relationship, then we cannot rely on it to guide our conscience when the tough decisions come around. Only authentic relationship creates real trust.
Words by Jen Grubb