Deepening Change, Chapter Five, Spiritual Change
by Melissa Martin 11/25/2011 / Christian Living
When did your spirit arrive in your body?Think about it. Does our spirit instantly appear at conception when the sperm and egg collide, during fetal development, or after our birth? Some posit that the human spirit lives in a spiritual realm before conception and fuses into a fetus while in the womb. Perhaps like a butterfly, our spirit flutters in at birth waiting until we slide down the canal and plop out into the atmosphere. Does our spirit arrive or lay dormant until we are old enough to make choices and decide for ourselves?
Of course, what we believe is shaped by our country of origin, family of origin, religious views, denominational doctrines, theology, cultural tenets, societal norms, historical books, research studies, and so forth and so on. What do you believe and why do you believe it?
Christians who read the same Bible have different views of scripture and of God. Who is right? Do you think you are right and everyone else is wrong? Have you studied the original biblical manuscript in Hebrew? Do you use the Strong's Concordance?
Probing, questioning, thinking, reflecting is not heresy but the deepening of awareness, the learning of knowledge, and the fostering of wisdom. Studying religious roots is not sacrilege. Respectfully questioning your pastor or preacher's teaching is not blasphemy. Do you swallow everything a TV evangelist says?
Contemplate on the following:
What is the difference between spirituality and religion? Are you spiritual? Are you religious? Are you both spiritual and religious?
What is your soul? What is your spirit? Are they the same or different? In your body where is your soul and spirit located?
What is the Holy Spirit? Where does the Holy Spirit reside? What is the difference between your spirit and the Holy Spirit? How do they interact?
Talk about how you know what you believe about the beginning of life and the end of life.
Reflect and write about your spiritual and/or religious experiences.
Are you content with your spirituality? Religion? Explain.
Do you want to incorporate spirituality and/or religion into your lifestyle?
Describe your spiritual changes. Describe your religious changes.
Are spirituality and/or religion your catalyst for making changes? Explain.
Imagine that you are a drop of water. Describe yourself. How was water created? Who created water? Describe your relationship to water? What is the purpose of water?
What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of my life? What is the meaning of your life? Like hidden treasure, I've searched for the answer; traveling inside myself and wandering through the wilderness; hunting the holy grail of meaning with a compass that points in four directions.
What is the meaning of life for a follower of Jesus? What is the meaning of life according to Jesus? What is God's purpose? What is God's purpose for you?
Searching for the meaning of spirituality has taught lessons far too numerous to mention. However, my own spiritual experiences of living on planet earth while gazing into the cosmos color my beliefs and values concerning the mysteries of the invisible, yet, visible human spirit. At times, I find my spirituality translucent; at times it is opaque. Nevertheless, during personal crises when logic and reasoning fail to comfort, I turn to spirituality to find meaning; God, intelligent design, life force, higher powerI seek something outside myself but it is paradoxical that I find it inside myself. I have found my meaning in the God of the Bible. I have found my purpose in the person of Jesus the Christ.
I've spent a considerable amount of time making meaning out of religion. Both Western and Eastern religions serve a purpose in the seeking of meaning for human beings. The three religious groups with biblical origins (i.e., Christianity, Judaism, Islam) are vehicles to spiritual meaning for many people. Christians adhere to the New Testament Bible and Jesus; Jews adhere to the Old Testament Bible, God and Messiah; and Muslims adhere to the Quran and Allah. All three live and die by interpretations of truth in their books of knowledge and wisdom. Studying their books and exploring their philosophies enlarged my capacity for understanding cultural differences and similarities. Learning about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism abates religious privilege. However, interacting with people from different faiths and cultures is what enlarged my heart and downsized my judgmental attitude.
Jesus loves all people from every religion. God created all people and loves all people. Do I love all people? Do you love all people? Do we love the unlovable?
Believing in a force greater than self and outside of self is important for salient change for many while others look inside themselves for spiritual transformation. Albeit, spirituality is found in many places for many people. Where is your place?
I reside in God's place of grace. Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds (a Bible verse). Are you so focused on sin that you ignore grace? Would you rather fear sin than to be and feel secure in grace?
Visit a synagogue, a mosque, a temple, a shrine, a church and reflect on your experiences. Describe the similarities. Look beyond the rituals, services, traditions, theological views, and so forth. What do you see? Close your eyes and look inside the people. What do you see? Do you show love and mercy to people of all religious beliefs or only to people who believe like you?
Make a plan to read about and study a different religion every two months or take a college course on religion and history.
Make a long-term goal to read the Bible, the Quran, and the teachings of Buddha in order to understand people of other religions. Do you judge people who are different from you? Do you feel superior to others? Do you adhere to the "God bless us four and no more" philosophy?
Study the history of Judaism. Plan a trip to Israel.
Consider a sabbatical for spiritual renewal and change.
Learn and practice body breath-work and deep breathing. Create a serene and private reflection and prayer space in your backyard or on your porch or patio.
I recommend books by Philip Yancey and Max Lucado.
Discuss spiritual and religious opinions with friends. Agree to disagree with respect for diversity.
Volunteer at a faith-based inner city mission, a summer camp for kids, or an after-school program. Do you find your purpose in helping others?
Plan a mission trip to a third world country. Donate to a global (reputable) charity.
Ponder on how many drops of water are in a cup. How many drops in an ocean? Reflect upon the creator of the universe. Describe your personal relationship with God.
We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons
inspiration or desperation.
From The Treasury of Quotes by Jim Rohn
Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.