Saturday, November 17, 2007

Overspiritualizing Everyday Problems

Paul Scanlon calls on Christians to stop over spiritualising everyday problems. Sometimes a situation doesn’t need lots of agonised prayer, bad plumbing is bad plumbing whether the plumber is a Christian or not! We just need to use our God given common sense!

In 2002, I was in a meeting where my friend Pastor Brian Houston from the Hillsong Church, Sydney, spoke to a gathering of leaders about the apostle Paul’s teaching on the relationship between the natural and spiritual realms. This ministry got me thinking about the many situations I have been involved in as a Pastor during the past 22 years. Too many of these were unnecessarily complicated because of people’s tendency to over spiritualise everything in their lives and turn simple everyday natural problems into major spiritual issues. I have come to see that this tendency to make everything a spiritual drama, which is particularly prevalent among charismatic Christians, is both killing churches and creating ‘no win’ situations between these superspiritual believers and their down-to earth pastoral leaders.

Another symptom of this problem is the church’s pattern of counselling a person on the same issue over and over again because we are afraid to call a spade a spade; instead, we call it some exotic spiritual issue. We allow superspiritual padding to cushion the blow of the earthiness of the natural wisdom that we as leaders are almost embarrassed to offer as spiritual counsel.

The truth is that many unbelievers live a better life using their natural common sense than believers do by the Spirit and that should be an unacceptable indictment against the church. Some Christians were more ‘together’ before they were converted than they are now. Before, they just got on with life and dealt with things as they arose - no big deal. But now, everything is a conspiracy theory; nothing is as it appears to be and there is a quest to find the deeper spiritual reason for everything. So, the car crash that used to be explained by, ‘I wasn’t looking,’ now becomes, ‘the devil is trying to kill me!’ Or, ‘God’s protection has lifted off my life so I must have some hidden sin somewhere.’ The newly redundant, that frankly faced the fact that ‘I got sacked because I am always late and not very good at my job,’ now becomes, ‘the boss is a Freemason and he can’t stand my presence as a believer; that’s why he has fired me.’ The debtor that once admitted, ‘I am in debt because I have been spending what I don’t have for years,’ becomes, ‘there is a devourer trying to attack my finances but I am a tither, so I rebuke the spirit of debt over my life.’

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simplynues said...

I wonder why you tend to observe such behavior in Africans and African Americans alike. So thing to do with history???... maybe. Our roots... maybe...Upbringing...maybe... Then there is the human tendency to ache for the root of a problems or issue.

Akin said...

Pastor Scanlon is the Senior Pastor of the Abundant Life Church based in Bradford and has a congregation including a wide mix of ages, cultures and backgrounds, but predominantly white. I don't know for sure if the spooky spiritual plumber is of the African descent but it is safe to assume he is not since this church is mostly caucasian. In that regard this overspiritualizing of issues may be much more than an African thing.