Someone I know, a very spiritually oriented man, recently sent me this video via Instagram:
(Warning: Don’t listen with little ones around. F’bombs are dropped.)
While I understand her perspective, as the me not-so-long ago would have been offering high fives and hell yeahs! all around, this video also embodies the fallacy of so many of new age vague spiritual and self-help doctrines. Notice where the attention and focus are. It’s on ME. It’s all about ME and my energy and my light and my clarity. It is rather self-serving and assumes that to be good and to do good in the world we need to be some perfect model of light and clarity rather than accept the fact that more times than not, we are anything but those things. That should not stop us from going out into our communities and serving those in need who may not be as clear or dare I say, privileged, as we are.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that, like this woman, I do embody such light and divine spirit. Is it not my job to spread that to the very people that need it the most? If I, as a Christian, am to embody the living spirit of God as Jesus did, who would I be if I only decided to hang out with people that matched my “vibration” and only when it was a resounding “Hell YES!” to do so? Jesus hung out with tax collectors and harlots and the lowest dregs of society. The broken. The desperate and despairing. Is it not my duty to be like him to the best of my ability? To be a light and example to others? To go out into the very messy world with all its sin and fallen people to set an example?
This is where new age spirituality failed for me. It was all about me and my perfection. I am much happier to serve the world, with all my flaws, and offer my time, talents, and treasures where they are most needed rather than to satisfy my personal desire for comfort and light. Of course, I find a lot of support in like-minded persons but now I find those persons who have a heart for service to be much more inspiring than the message in this video. I also acknowledge an idea like this served me at a certain point in my life. However, now, my life is of better use to do God’s work in the lives of those that need Him most.
As a Christian, the shift of the focus from me and my feelings to the service of others and dedication to be God’s servant is one of the primary changes in my life. Yes, I certainly have had to practice boundaries, particularly in personal relationships. I’ve been known to attach to energy suckers and can get easily drained. However, I do my best to discern between someone truly in need from someone who is a distraction from my purpose. This spirit of protecting oneself from the outer world and those who are less ‘clear’ or ‘light’ will not help the dire circumstances and need for God and His word in our current culture.
The first thing I now ask in the morning is how can I fortify and improve myself today so I can better serve God’s purpose for my life and demonstrate his glory? Rather than how can I fix myself to improve my situation? Every morning I pray to listen with the ears, see with the eyes and speak with the tongue of Jesus. Lord knows, I fail miserably most days. But I am more aware when I do, and I aim to be a better representation of his love.
Many people have tried to use the words of Christ and “love thy neighbor” against me when I go against the current narrative and say words that don’t seem to be very Jesus like. However, if I argue in defense of Christianity when it is vociferously attacked, as it so often seems to be in current culture, I will not hesitate to use sharp words to speak Truth. Yes, Jesus spoke of all the warm fuzzy things we like to hear – compassion, love, and hope. But God in Exodus 23:1 commanded: “You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.” In Timothy Chapter 4 we are told to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Jesus warns that those who uphold and praise him as the Lord of all would be mocked and vilified and He gave comfort. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-5:12)
In a response to my friend’s Instagram message, I offered a summary of my points above and sent him a passage from the book of Matthew, 5:14-5:16:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
May you find kinship with those who uplift and support you, but don’t hesitate to hang with those who challenge your comfort or when it may be a “F no.” In that very moment, they may be the ones that need you the most.