Summary: Having a right attitude toward our possessions/being to give generously sets the soul free to grow and love.
True Spirituality Series
Freedom for Your Soul
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
A couple of months ago, the AARP magazine carried an interesting interview with Katie Couric. You know her as the host of the NBC Today Show. In 1998 Katie lost her 42-year old husband to a six-month battle with colon cancer. Four years later her sister died. The reporter asked her how these two losses affected her. Katie replied, “I’m very interested in exploring a more spiritual side of me, and I’m in the process of doing that, both formally and informally. I really envy those who have a steadfast, unwavering faith, because I think it’s probably so comforting and helpful during difficult times." (Cable Neuhaus, "Whatever Katie Wants," AARP (November/December 2005).
Katie speaks for a lot of Americans. We live in the freest, most prosperous nation on the earth. Even the poorest of us are better off than most of the world. We are far better off than our ancestors. We have unbelievable modern conveniences. Unlimited opportunities abound. Yet a spiritual vacuum lurks beneath that façade of prosperity. Many are looking for something more.
For a growing number of folk, that “something more” falls under the heading of “spirituality.” Spirituality can be a pretty slippery label. By spirituality, some folk mean any kind of emotional experience. The more bizarre the better. Others think of elaborate rituals and ceremonies involving lots of incense and chanting. For some, spirituality comes through self-denial. It requires a rejection of all the creature comforts that come with normal life. Spirituality is discovered by becoming a vegetarian or moving to a mountain top retreat. Almost always, spirituality means something totally apart from normal, daily life. There lies the problem! We are left wondering if spirituality can be experienced by regular folk.
That’s our theme for the first couple of months of the New Year. We are looking at True Spirituality: Finding the Life You’ve Always Wanted. We are searching for the path to that “steadfast, unwavering faith” that Katie says she yearns for.
I start with two assumptions. First, you want to be more spiritual. There is not a one of you that doesn’t want a deeper, closer relationship with God. Secondly, I am convinced this (Bible) is our starting place. The Lord hasn’t left us on our own. He provided a road map that points the way to a treasure of spiritual blessing.
Today our roadmap takes us back to the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus’ classic instructions about living a life that pleases God. At the beginning of Matthew 6, Jesus outlines three important activities that are proven paths to a truly spiritual life—charity, praying, and fasting.
A lot of modern folk are surprised that Jesus even takes up these topics. For them, spirituality is private, internal, or emotional. In these paragraphs, Jesus moves spirituality into the realm of observable behavior. Jesus uses the Jewish term “acts of righteousness.” Everyone in his day understood that these were things that anyone interested in knowing God did. Jesus doesn’t question that.