Summary: Intro to the series on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

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Tending to Life Beneath the Surface

Series: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Brad Bailey – January 15, 2012


Most of us know something of the tragedy of the Titanic. [1]

It was created with great pride and potential… created as the largest and most lavish passenger steamship in the world at the time. On April 10, 1912, she began her maiden voyage… setting sail for New York with 2,223 people on board… including many wealthy and prominent figures.

On the upper decks… it was all about keeping the party in luxury… but on the fourth day of that maiden voyage…tragedy occurred. She hit an iceberg…. That tore open the hull and began to take in water.

There were two worlds tragically divided…life on the upper decks looked so impressive… and it was moving with remarkable speed…but on the lower decks…beneath the water line…there was damage and danger that was being ignored until it was too late.

That ship reflects our lives. We were created with great pride and potential…but when we’re only focused on the upper deck… and avoid the problems below… we face the tragic consequences.

> What we need to grasp is that we are each the captain of these lives… who must make choices …choices that can prove destructive and even deadly… or can prove to restore us and lead to the fullness of life which Jesus came to bring.

We need to begin by realizing that the ship is like the iceberg that destroyed it… in which only 10% can be seen. 90% lies unseen beneath the water…and ignoring that 90% can prove fatal.

Today we are beginning a series…. entitled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

This series is about tending to life beneath the deck… below surface.

The fact that you are here… I believe reflects that you value the deeper life that God has given you. But Jesus reminds us of a tendency that we are all vulnerable to.

Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his day with words that must speak to all of us today.

Matthew 23:25-26 (NIV)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Jesus was not talking to some pagans… the local criminals of his day.

He was engaging the religious leaders. These were those who appeared to take God most seriously….most centrally. These were those who went to every service…. memorized every teaching…. did every proper thing one should.

Jesus uses the analogy of a drinking cup… something that gets washed everyday between the many times throughout the day when people stopped to drink water or tea. It notes that while the outside may be what is seen…it is the inside that determines whether it is healthy to drink from.

Jesus is speaking of the heart… what Hebrew culture understands as the inner life.

Earlier he had explained…

Matthew 15:18-19 (NIV)

“…the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

It is out of the heart… the inner disposition that our lives are defined. True rightness will flow from the inside out.

Solomon said,

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

Let me take a moment to relate this to the focus on emotional health.

When Jesus refers to the significance of our hearts… he is speaking about that which is a bit more dynamic that simply our English use of the word heart and emotions. The Hebrew word for ‘heart’ refers to the whole of ones inner disposition… a disposition formed by feelings and affections and will.

However, emotions are a dynamic part of the hearts disposition.

Emotions are a reflection of the longings we seek to fulfill… and the symptom of that process.

When a baby cries or smiles…it reflects the pursuit of it’s nature.

The crying or smiling is a sign or symptom of that nature. As we develop we cultivate different ways of relating to that inner disposition expressed through our feelings.

There are symptoms of what is pleasant and symptoms of what is not pleasant… love and hate… joy and sorrow. So naturally we are a bit conflicted about them. We spend a lot of unconscious energy trying to suppress them… deny them… and then at times wanting to express them.

What we must understand… is that they are neither our enemy nor our savior… they are simply a symptom of our inner disposition. To deny the disposition within us is simply to divide ourselves… and the result is often an idealized self and a real self.

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