Weird Christians and True Spirituality

nohandshakeThe church is full of all kinds of weird people. Oftentimes I have found myself admiring and being intimidated by these weird Christians (and even being weird myself) because of their weirdness rather than the display of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Sometimes I just can’t help taking their weirdness for true spirituality. Many are the times when this confusion has left me feeling condemned, less spiritual and inadequate as a Christian, even when the Bible has clearly said that I am complete in Christ and that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Perhaps you, like me, have met and gotten to know one of these three weird Christians. Maybe you’re even one of them:

1. The Charismatic Friend

There’s always that friend who makes everyone else uncomfortable during prayer meetings. He is the guy who will often drown everyone else with his loud unintelligible prayers because he likes praying in tongues and encourages others to do so. He is the guy who uses phrases such as “dispensation”, “declaration”, “apostolic message” and “prophetic word” whenever he gives his contribution during a Bible Study discussion session. When he speaks about God or the Bible, he speaks with such boldness and conviction that one cannot dare question the truth of his claims. On special days and at the beginning of the year or month, he always has a special declaration to make concerning his life, his friends’ life and his country.

This guy is not always like this, only when it comes to talking about God or the Bible. He calls these things “spiritual” things. But when it comes to other “normal” things, he is quite normal. He likes to play video-games, attend birthday parties and is pretty much a normal guy in those other fellowship contexts that are not specifically meant for the discussion of God’s Word. However, there are still those few occasions when a phrase such as “I heard the voice of God telling me to…” will occasionally escape his lips. This is especially when the discussion involves a major life decision such as a job change or dating relationships. Though most of his friends find him a bit weird, they never dare to say it out loud.

2. The Calvinist Friend

Then there’s this other friend who also likes using big words. However, his big words are used in a slightly different context. They tend to be more academic than mystical. He likes using words such as “regeneration”, “predestination” and “The Sovereignty of God”. This guy has developed a reputation for questioning everything, especially other pastors and teachers of the word. He will often be heard giving a harsh criticism to something a famous pastor said on television or posted on Facebook. He doesn’t always delight in these things or look for trouble, but somehow, he manages to get himself into heated debates and discussions concerning the Word of God, even during Bible study sessions. Though he claims to be a sinner who does not know any better than other Christians, this is not how he comes off. He has a reputation for being bigoted, intolerant, “know-it-all” and proud… traits that he vehemently denies.

This guy is also not always like this. He will often hang out with other friends on birthday parties and play video games or cards like everyone else. However, his conscience always seems to trouble him about some of these things. This especially comes out when he loses a game or someone makes fun of him. At such times, he will often point out the importance of Grace and that a competitive spirit is not good for Christians. He is not as carefree as many of his friends. And even though he always speaks about the importance and the supremacy of the word of God in the life of a Christian, he seems to spend much of his time reading books about the Bible rather than the Bible itself.

3. The Nice Friend

Then there is the third type of friend. He has a reputation for being “Mr. Nice Guy”. When he is in the company of the charismatic friend and everyone seems to be praying in tongues, he will occasionally join in. At first, he feels as if he is pretending, but soon enough, he gets used to it and it comes naturally. In the company of the Calvinist friend, this nice friend often chooses to be silent and not engage in “meaningless quarrels over words.” In those rare occasions when he finds the Calvinist friend in a heated exchange with the Charismatic friend, he will always act as the mediator. This friend likes to preach peace, love and unity. He will often be found saying that what this world needs is love, and that Christians should love one another and not judge one another.

This friend is often the life of the party. He prefers reading devotional books to strictly doctrinal books. If a pastor says something that sounds contradictory to scripture, this friend is tolerant. There must be a good reason for the pastor saying that, some deep spiritual revelation that he is probably not aware of, no need to be an alarmist, he will just let it slide. Furthermore, people are different and have different emphases. God will vindicate himself in the end, whether or not what the pastor preached was wrong. This friend doesn’t have many opinions about the Word of God or “spiritual” things. But he often has his share of opinions on sports, politics and other general life topics.

So, which of these three people is more spiritual? Who is more Christ-like? Which friend are you and which of the three do you wish you were? Whether your answer is one of the above or none of the above, the Bible provides telling glimpses concerning what visible traits, which behavioral trends and which godly attitudes are considered the marks of true spirituality. Here are a few examples:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Galatians 3:17

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 peter 1:5-8

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Romans 13:1-2

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:3-10

There is so much more the Bible has to say about true spirituality and how the truly spiritual people ought to “act” and “behave”. Not only does the Bible present these things as the ideal traits of true Christian character, it also commands us to aspire to these things. Therefore, do not be intimidated by that charismatic friend, we are not necessarily more Christ-like because we speak with a certain confidence, arrogance or appeal to authority. Do not be led to despair by that Calvinist friend, we are not necessarily more Christ-like because we can articulate our faith with the eloquence of Shakespeare and the vocabulary of a professor. Do not be intimidated by the Nice Friend, we are not more Christ-like because we are not sure about anything, not offensive to other people and don’t have an opinion regarding controversial biblical topics. We are Christ-like because we are in Christ, and the fruit of the Spirit is being manifested through our acts and attitudes.

For the fame of His name,

Cornell.

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