Sunday, May 15, 2005

Moving beyond obsessive-compulsive spirituality

Mike Russell has written an outstanding post about what spiritual transformation is not: obsessive-compulsive spirituality. It was a lesson Mike, like me, didn't learn easily:

Probably because it fit with my personality at the time, I confused obsessing about God with being filled with the Spirit and abiding in Christ. Almost every thought I had was painfully and rigorously scrutinized, examined under an unbiblical, neurotic microscope to see if or how much sin was involved. It was about “doing it right” all the time. I literally lived by the letter of the law and watched myself constantly, as though a mere observer of a tortured, failing lifestyle. I was consumed with my own “holiness,” not with Him who had made me holy (forensically, for all you doctrinal types reading this).

I was miserable; worse, I made my wife miserable, too.

I thought that this was what the Christian life was supposed to be all about: a constant, unrelenting preoccupation with God and His word. I lost interest in almost everything that had been in my life prior to my conversion. (In my case, this was not all bad.) I was quickly bored with any conversation that did not focus on Christ and impatient with Christians who were interested in “worldly” things like sports, movies, literature, music, dancing, or having fun in general.

I was suffering and insufferable.

Mike finally had to allow himself to "break" spiritually and pray to God this way:

“I quit! You said that Your Spirit would live in me and produce Christ in me. Well, I’m through trying to do it. God, it’s time for You to do it or not. I’m done!”

Mike is a clear thinker and outstanding Christian writer. I recommend you read the whole story. He's also posted a follow-up piece, "Walking in the Spirit with Pink Floyd."


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