I tend to throw around the word “spirituality” a lot these days. Maybe that’s because it seems to be so popular, so common, so “in.” “Let’s find our spirituality. What is your pursuit of spirituality? Spirituality is far more important than religion.” Etcetera.
I was even working on a sermon this morning where I was focusing on developing our spirituality. We are to grow spiritually. We are spiritual beings. We are to be a part of a spiritual community. Yes, yes, and yes.
But what does that mean?
Are you growing spiritually? Do you think about your spirituality? Or is spirituality for you too nebulous or ethereal?
What I have found over the years is that there are “thinkers” and “feelers,” and those Myers-Briggs classifications are not just for personality types. They also become fairly accurate descriptions of different approaches to the Christian faith.
Thinkers are theologians, academicians, and apologists. Feelers are worshipers, charismatics, and experience-seekers. Thinkers use their minds. Feelers use their hearts. Thinkers are into rational faith. Feelers are into spirituality. Or so we’ve been made to believe.
This dichotomy is not only false; it’s dangerous. Theologians who have no spirituality become arid deserts of benign rational thought. Worshipers who have no theology (good theology, that is) become experience junkies with a surface spirituality.
If you are someone who likes to study the Bible and listen to “deep” sermons, but you are not developing a contemplative life, you will become a Pharisee. If you are someone who could listen to Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture, or Hillsong all day, but you never crack open the Sacred Book, you will become a feel-good fan of the latest pop Christianity rather than a follower of Jesus.
Andrew Louth, emeritus professor of patristic and Byzantine studies in the Department of Theology and Religion of Durham University (how’s that for a mouth full?), once wrote,
Spirituality is necessary to theology to keep it in its proper vocation. . . . Theology is necessary to spirituality to keep it to its proper vocation. `He who prays is a theologian; a theologian is one who prays,’ to quote Evagrius. The danger of a non- or un-theological spirituality is, I think, that it will tend to become a mere cult of devotion, or devotedness, not to anything in particular but just in itself (“Theology and Spirituality,” Origen Society, 1974).
A healthy spirituality includes a Christ-centered theology. A healthy theology includes a Christ-centered spirituality. I challenge you to search your heart and your mind to see if both are working in tandem to cultivate “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).