Spiritual Rx - One Size Fits All or Walking in the Spirit?
From T.A. Sparks / Life in the Spirit - Chapter 6:
"Sometimes it will mean that they will have to leave a great deal that is of a secondary character; perhaps forsake many things, even religious things, the accepted things, to walk with the Lord. There may be a price attached to it; misunderstanding, and loneliness, and much besides; but if you are so open to the Lord that nothing else matters, and you mean to walk with God whatever the cost, no matter what people say you ought to do as (in their thought) a part of a great Christian order or religious machine, you will come into all God's secret thought as naturally as a flower opens to the sun, and you will be making discoveries and finding that there is a vast realm of meaning and possibility and capacity and power that you never dreamed of."
This dovetailed amazingly with contemplations centered around Romans 14 this morning, as regards the participation in observance of days (or not) or abstaining from foods, conscience, and relating to one another in love so as to not cause stumbling.
Some branches of institutional Christendom tend to view themselves as the one size fits all prescriptive cure to all spiritual ills, placed upon its members from the outside. However, what may be a "spiritual Rx" for one may not work for another.
As Paul reminds us, "He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God... So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this - not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way..."
Can we infer from this that in the 1st century there was a great deal more freedom to walk in the Spirit, than is now seen - with every denomination being a particular sort of religious groupthink?
Might it be that the great religious machine of external observances and practices has its place, somewhat like the shell of the egg around a developing baby chick? But eventually there comes a day when the shell is no longer required, and it has served its purpose. At some point one moves out of these constraints, and into the space of freedom to be led by the Spirit of God, paradoxically with "a price attached to it; misunderstanding, and loneliness, and much besides..." That kind of spiritual freedom for which Christ has set us free comes at the cost of misunderstandings, to say the least.
The shell of institutional religion cannot forever demand that its contents remain the same. It was given for its particular purpose. Where we run into clashing - even to the point of bloodshed at times - is when we refuse to acknowledge that "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Thoughts inspired by:
T. Austin-Sparks from: Life in the Spirit - Chapter 6