Summary: We begin this series on emotionally healthy spirituality by examining what UNhealthy emotional spirituality looks like in relation to being a new creation in Christ.
Back To School
Emotionally UNhealthy Spirituality
September 27, 2009
This new series is entitled, “Back to School.” It is back to school because of the time of year but also because we are going to examine emotionally healthy spirituality. We are going to look at the connection between our spiritual growth and our emotional growth. The assumption behind this is that our spiritual growth or spiritual maturity can be limited by our emotional immaturity. A second belief is that spiritual growth or discipleship of the last century has often focused on the intellectual or mental aspects of spiritual maturity and neglected our emotional development.
Most discipleship seeks to create new or right thinking in order to change our behaviors and our lives. This is both necessary and beneficial. However, the failure to address other issues such as our emotional maturity and our social spheres can leave us stunted in our spiritual growth.
Unfortunately, my education in this area was not due to the church. My church experience with spiritual discipleship has always focused on the mental training. Good and necessary skills to develop and have. Things like scripture memorization, study of scripture, learning basic theological beliefs, learning how to pray and pray out loud, learning bible stories are all approaches and skills that stimulate a healthy mental spirituality. Other skills like meditation, contemplation, and reflection were sometimes taught and begin to touch more of the emotional aspect of our lives but they were usually taught intellectually as a “how to.”
These are very important aspects but for most people they can only take us so far. How many discipleship courses can you take in your life? And the really important question, “How come these practices don’t change my life like they are supposed to do?” All the religious and spiritual school intellectually that you can do just won’t bring us to maturity because we are stunted emotional. So it’s back to school…
A couple was being sent overseas as short-term missionaries by their home congregation. However, their trip was endangered of being postponed because as they neared the date of their departure their visas had not yet been issued. So the church called for everyone to pray and designated the upcoming Sunday as a time for the congregation to pray. They asked every Sunday school class to specifically lift up this vital need.
In the fourth grade class, when the teacher told the students that the missionaries needed a visa and that the class was going to pray for them, one boy raised his hand.
“Yes, Josh,” the teacher said.
“If they can’t get their visa, why don’t they just use their mastercard?”
Today we are going to look at unhealthy emotional spirituality. It focuses on the scripture from 2 Corinthians 5:17 that says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
We sometimes read this scripture and misapply it. We memorize it and hold onto the promise but we fail to realize that other factors are involved. It is certainly true that when we come to Christ, our sins are wiped away and we are given a new name, a new identity, a new future, and a new way of living. God is no longer a judge but our Father. However, this doesn’t mean that things like the past won’t continue to influence us.
It does mean that when you choose to follow Jesus, you are given the opportunity to begin again. You are to live a new life. It is a new way of living. You turn away from the old way and the rebellion and the me-centered life to live a Christ-centered life. This is a great concept to take hold of. But it is a concept. It is a mental truth. The sins of the past no longer have to drag you down IF (and this is a big, huge “IF”) you are able to let the past go.
But usually even though we want to let go the past, somehow the past often has a hard time letting go of us. So we begin to become new creations when we are finally able to deal with and maybe confront our unhealthy emotional spirituality.
Unhealthy Emotional Spirituality
Now I am going to address just a few of the biggest issues that I see people facing. There are several more. The small group study on emotionally healthy spirituality deals with more of these. But these are several of the biggest issues that we deal with. And I do mean “we.” Because we ALL are on a journey toward wholeness. Part of maturing is realizing that we grow. We don’t really stop growing even though we might experience more health than some and hopefully more health than we used to.