Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spiritual Fast Food

When my wife and I toured the Holy Land in January 2011, we were constantly amazed at our Jewish guide’s rich grasp of history. He seemed to know the chronology of just about every rock or tree we passed by. Since I love history, I enjoyed hearing his mini-lectures. But what was equally amazing was his complete lack of ability to make a spiritual connection between the history he was telling us and the biblical narrative from which it emerged. He clearly knew the history of the Holy Land, but he also clearly missed the point of most of what had happened there in the past 3,500 years.

There was only one exception to our guide’s lack of spirituality during our entire trip, and that occurred when we entered Jerusalem for the first time. We drove to the top of Mt. Scopus and stood on the hillside overlooking the city. Our guide put on his yarmulke and gave us a traditional Jewish toast to Jerusalem that even included a little prayer in Hebrew. I heard his voice catch for a moment as he prayed. It was a spiritual moment, and I sensed our guide’s sincerity.
Though I was disappointed that our guide missed most of the spiritual connections that emanate from the Holy Land, as I have reflected back on the experience it occurs to me that he was not that much different from many Christians who only show up at church for Easter and Christmas services. They come and get a little taste of spirituality, and then go back to their daily lives thinking they have done their religious duty. Though they are sincere in those brief moments, they do not carry that sincerity with them when the experience is over. When Christians do that, they are just like that tour guide, having a spiritual moment only when it is convenient. With all due respect to our guide and to Christians who are like him, I wonder how meaningful that kind of faith really is.
For reflection and discussion:

Have we ever been guilty of seeking a quick spiritual experience instead of pursuing an ongoing spiritual relationship?
Read Matthew 23:25-28.

What were the Pharisees guilty of doing?
What did Jesus tell them to do?

How are we like the Pharisees when we pursue quick spiritual experiences instead of pursuing ongoing righteousness?
Prayer: Lord, help me to make the time and effort to develop my personal spirituality. Lord, bring peace to Jerusalem by helping the residents focus on lasting spirituality instead of temporary experiences. Amen.

Note: the above is an excerpt from Terry's devotional guide Touching the Footprints of Jesus

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