Wednesday, August 27, 2008

spiritual healing, crash dieting, and four bullet points to a perfect Christian walk

Do we really appreciate, in the Christian community, how long real healing and real growth take? I don't think so . . . It makes me think of the dieting cycle so prevalent in our society. of Gain weight over months or years. Decide to do better. Lose weight via grapefruits, South Beach, the latest new pill . . . okay, so the weight might come off temporarily, but are you really prepared to eat that much grapefruit forever? When things go back to "normal" is the weight going to come back? Usually, real change for a healthier body means starting by adjusting what our idea of normal is . . . what's our goal anyway? To look good? Or to actually be healthy? There is, after all, rather more to health than the ill-thought-out Body Mass Index.

Likewise in our churches. I wonder how much of what's being preached on any given Sunday in the U.S. amounts to the selling of the upside-down diet, or how to count your points . . . bullet points and strategies that might have some good foundational theology under there, but might not . . . are we really looking to know God and have him heal and transform every dark and broken area of our lives with his light and truth? Or are we looking for a bit of a tool kit so we can make ourselves look spiritually good for each other? Are we judging and practicing our theology against the standard of lasting sanctification? Or against measurable-by-next-Sunday results?

extraordinary, unsustainable efforts, for visible short-term reults . . .

9 comments:

Erin said...

I think this is my favorite post of yours so far. I love love love this observation. It is the basis of the reasons behind why I left...the thinking that healing was some magical 5 bullet point potion and if it failed there was something wrong with the person.

Tyler Dawn said...

Yeah, this is great.

Whenever I used to struggle with something (whether I was presbyterian, SB, or Pentecostal) I was offered "quick fixes" by the church.

"Keep coming to church."
"Name it and claim it"
"Get more faith"
"Read scriptures out loud and claim them."

But God offered me this road instead:

"Follow Me."

Since He never stops moving, there isn't an arrival point. He is always on the move and so I have to keep following. It doesn't make for a pretty "seeker friendly" package and there are no bullet points that can tell you how to do it. We want a formula, we want a quick fix, we want some semblance of control!!!

Sara said...

Erin--thank you. I've been thinking quite a bit lately about our timelines v. God's. I believe that there is real healing to be had--but that it is much slower, harder, more organic than most of us like to believe, and that the results are not necessarily predictable ones. Our culture doesn't like to believe that there isn't a quick fix for anything though--I suppose it's not surprising that churches fall for telling people what they want to hear--that we should be able to expect insta-God . . . just add water and microwave for 30 seconds, huh?

Tyler--it seems to me that sometimes saying "well, just pray about it more" is about like saying "well, just don't eat as much, and exercise more." Gee, thanks for the illumination. Not that they're not true, exactly, but stating it that way implies that the situation is just as simple as that . . . when it's probably not. It brushes away symptoms with an insensitivity that doesn't want to think that there might be more to it than that. I love your reminder that the Christian life is one on the move.

Rob said...

Sara, you kicked me off into that post on the attractional church that I've been thinking about doing; this was the last connection I needed to say something coherent about that.

Happy said...

i'll probably end up writing about this myself at some point in the near future, but your post made me think about fasting (not that i wasn't already thinking about it). :) E. loaned me a book last summer that I finally read around 4 am on Monday, boldly titled "The Miracle Results of Fasting" or something equally ... interesting. :) Not sure I buy into all of the guy's theology on the subject, BUT one thing he did say that I think is true is that sometimes you don't see the results / benefits of your fast until well after the fast is over. (Jake says maybe not even for years.) But it doesn't mean it's not still worth doing. "Keep your eyes on the prize..."

I wonder if most of our spiritual lives aren't really like that picture in Revelation of the angel holding the censer, and when it's filled to the brim with the prayers of the saints, it's tipped, and God's answer comes pouring down... quite a contrast to our drive-thru, convenience-driven society, to think of waiting however long it takes for something to be just right...

Sara said...

Hap--we're given a clear indication from Jesus that the Word of God (incarnate and written and inspired) are to our spiritual life as bread is to our body. (Oh, gee--that came out sounding like a "this is to that" SAT question, didn't it? :) ) But if that's the case, it makes me wonder whether much of the church's schizophrenic relationship with scripture-reading, devotionals, etc. that I alluded to a couple of posts ago isn't some sort of spiritual eating disorder as well . . . are we as a culture, both physically and spiritually, so glutted with food and spiritual resources that it's beyond us to put together what amounts to a balanced diet?

Erin said...

Sara - excellent and interesting point about being so glutted with spiritual resources that we cannot develop at healthy diet. I'll have to think more about the personal implications of that.

Mike said...

Sara ~ This is a great post. I can say with certainty that health that stays and weight loss that sticks is not about temporary fixes, it is about changing the way you eat and exercise. It's about changing your habits. This is a GREAT comparison.

What's even funnier is that now I am sitting here picturing my pastor standing up at the pulpit pitching the latest "lose evil" programs and ideas knowing fully that in the end, they won't stick.

In this diet, we cannot live on a liquid diet, we need to be eating meat!!

Mike said...

On an unrelated topic, you're up at Apples 2 Apples