Minions from Despicable Me
Most of the time, I don’t feel very spiritual. I feel average. My day is filled with mundane things like brushing my teeth, going to work, caring for kids, taking out the garbage, etc. Amidst daily responsibilities and stressors, sometimes I keep my humor, sometimes I don’t. On occasion I’m a shining example of Christianity. More often I follow Jesus with halting steps and a limp.
While not feeling very spiritual the other day, a thought made my brain do a 180. I’m sure the thought came from the Holy Spirit. The thought was this: What do you mean by “spiritual?” I had to admit my definition of “spiritual” was some vague notion of floating three feet in the air, unperturbed by circumstances or stressors, pithy aphorisms dropping from my lips like pinata candy. My idea of “spiritual” was super-human.
I imagine I’m not alone in this. For many of us, being “spiritual” probably involves some ideal version of ourselves having amazing experiences. But this is not the definition the Holy Spirit began to lay out for me. In fact, any definition of “spiritual” centered on our perceptions and experiences is carnal, a product of our fallen imaginations.
For starters, “spiritual” must be entirely comprehended in Christ. I am spiritual because I am in Christ and He is in me. He is the spiritual One. I am only spiritual because of my relationship with Him.
To say this other ways:
“Spiritual” means “of or relating to the spirit.” If I am born of the Spirit, I am of the Spirit and therefore spiritual.
Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation or is spiritual (2 Cor. 5:17).
John says anyone who believes Jesus is the Messiah is born of God (AKA spiritual) (1 John 5:1).
These definitions have everything to do with reality in Christ and nothing to do with how I feel or see myself day to day. Christ is the only secure place to build a definition of “spiritual.” Outside of Him, we’re just making it up.
I realize there is another layer to what we’re talking about. The Christians at Corinth were (presumably) born of the Spirit and new creations. But Paul wrote, “Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ” (1 Cor. 3:1). Lack of maturity can cause us to act out of sync with who we are as spiritual beings. But fleshly behavior doesn’t change us from spiritual to non-spiritual. Even though Paul called the Corinthians “babies” he acknowledged they were in Christ. Being spiritual isn’t a matter of degrees, as if I can be “more spiritual” than you. You either are spiritual or you aren’t. You are in Christ or you aren’t. You are born of God or you aren’t. Assigning degrees of spirituality is just people claiming for themselves what belongs to Christ.
So for all of us who struggle with feeling unspiritual, the Holy Spirit’s advice is to stop esteeming ourselves apart from Christ; stop trying to be what only Christ is. Christ has become our spiritual-ness (1 Cor. 1:30-31). Relying on the spiritual-ness of Christ will mature us more effectively than bemoaning our insufficiencies. Imagine that 😉