When I reflect on Christianity and the God I have come to believe in, I find it hard to imagine that he could just occupy a spiritual side of my life. The creator God made known to us through the pages of the Bible and through the natural world and our own consciences and supremely through the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth, is not a mere local deity with limited dimensions. Indeed in Old testament times when Solomon was contemplating building a temple for this God, he struggled with the immensity of it all,
But who is able to build him a house, seeing heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him a house, save only to burn incense before him? 2 Chronicles 2.6
That seems an appropriate response, and is why I struggle with the concept of a spiritual side. When a person becomes a Christian 'a number of remarkable things take place both in heaven and in our bodies' (thus begins The Fight a truly excellent book on the christian life written by John White). That's a tantalising intro, but gives some indication of the immensity of true Christian experience.
For God to live within us can never be a sideline, a someone fitted in around other more pressing interests. Our relationship with Christ is at the core and everything springs from that. It's the essence of what we have been learning together at my church over the last 6 weeks in a course from Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church New York City, called The Gospel in Life.
A friend of mine who has been lately coming to our church wrote to me after last Sunday's meeting,
I was struck by a comment (was so struck by it that I cannot remember the exact words although it made the point that, as Christians, we should not have a 'spiritual side' but a we should have a spiritual core) at the evening service of a community church last night. The general theme of the service was 'work'. I don't seem to engage with topics that stray away from simple 'understanding Christianity' or 'living the Gospel' as these ones talk to me the most. Like some kind of spiritual Dragon's Den panellist "let me tell you where I am", I would currently be unable to define myself.... I was a Christian and when push comes to shove I might just write down 'C of E' on a form because...well I always have and its short and fits in the box.I strayed away from church around the age of 18 although I suspect that I strayed from God and the Gospel some time before that. I have returned to the physical church but perhaps not entirely spiritually... although I am making ground.
He's a grown man so I won't say out of the mouth of babes and sucklings!
I have been trying to squeeze my spiritual journey around these things to fill this jar when in fact what I probably need to do is to try and make the centre of this jar my spiritual journey and let it sort of run in and around the other parts of my life but certainly not exclude religion from the facets of my life but let it embrace them, sort of binding them with a purpose and some motivation.