I need to sort out my thoughts on this matter. Want to listen in?
I’ve been thinking lately about how when you are a non-christian, before you come to the church, you have all of these experiences and ideas about what the “non-physical” parts of life are: love, death, honor, ghosts, pain, revenge, happiness, Lots of things. I would call a lot of them “spirituality.”
And then you hear the message of Christ. You (hopefully) hear that there is one God, the creator of heaven and earth, and that he is a good God, and we are separated from him by sin, but he sent his son to redeem us from the penalty we earned. Assuming you believe it, and you turn from your sins, and turn to the Lord, you become a Christian, and the next step is:
You start going to church.
When you go to church, you find out about the Christian perspective on all of your non-physical (and some of your physical) parts of life. Love, death, honor. (some) Ghosts, pain, revenge, happiness. Lots of things.
You still with me? This is all pretty normal.
When you are at church, you read the bible. And the bible is full of all these weird, spiritual things. Like angels. Visions. Miracles and acts of God. People with power to call fire out of heaven. Prophets who predict the future (very accurately.) People who survive crazy weird dangerous things- and people who come. back. from. the. dead.
There are people who go to heaven and see wheels within wheels and creatures covered with eyes. There are times when God speaks out of clouds and people hear him (or hear thunder.) There are vipers that bite people and they aren’t harmed. There are ALL KINDS OF CRAZY THINGS THAT ARE SPIRITUAL. They are interactions with the (not always) invisible realm.
The bible is a book of God (the invisible, immortal, eternal) interacting with people. And the ways that the spiritual realm appears when it is revealed in bits and pieces to mortal human beings is strange, and fascinating, and awesome, and weird, and amazing.
And here’s where I start to have some questions.
Because the way I see it, the “message” of American christianity that they “Get out of the bible” is this message:
You were a sinner. Come to church and repent of your sins, and believe on Jesus Christ. (all v. good. Yes and amen.)
But the NEXT part of the message is where it gets weird. Because correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like the next part is:
Now learn how to live a nice clean life where you are really good by reading these stories and applying them as allegories to the contemporary culture of your life.
Which is weird enough, if you think about it. But it gets weirder, because I really feel like there is an even further message that is saying:
And by the way, any spiritual experiences that you have from here on out are only demons. God doesn’t do spiritual things anymore. Also, don’t get too emotional because emotions aren’t godly. Unless they’re good emotions like joy.
Where do these messages come from? When did we decide that these (REAL) testimonies of strange and wonderful things in the scriptures should be sanitized and used as morality fables?
When did we decide that the only encounters we would have with the spiritual realm were evil?
When did we decide that we are saved so that we can clean up our act and live a happier, healthier life? That isn’t the way I read the book of Acts at all.
When did we decide that the only relationship we could have with God was by reading about his interactions with other people?
I’m still thinking through all of these things. I don’t actually know what I think about them. But I’m thinking about them.
If you have any thoughts about them, I’d love to hear them. Comments below, or email me. Briannasiegrist@gmail.com