Today’s blog explores the searching stage of spiritual development and how for many Christians, Jesus gets lost along the way…..but more importantly, why Jesus is still relevant and why we don’t need to set him aside in our quest for spiritual fulfillment.
Questioning, Asking, Challenging our childhood beliefs
I believe that the searching stage of spiritual development is absolutely critical to becoming spiritually and emotionally mature adults (and all the experts on spiritual growth like Fowler and Maslow, etc. agree with me). The searching stage of spiritual development is when we start asking the questions, challenging dogma, doctrine, rules, wanting to find reason in mystery and wanting to believe in something that we can believe in because it resonates with me, not just because I am told to do it. The searching stage is when we start looking both within and outside the religions of our youth for that which speaks to our heart, that which nourishes and feeds us and that which might have a bit of reason added to it. Searching is healthy, necessary and exciting and eventually leads us to spiritual fulfillment and ultimately to our life purpose and mission. If we don’t search, we are doomed to be a pew potato, doing what we are told and believing what we believe because someone told us to. And for any churchs out there reading this blog, you really want your members to be more than blindly obedient – mature disciples give and serve WITHOUT being asked because it flows naturally out of who they are and who they have become.
Ripe with Opportunity, Ripe with Dangers
As the symbol of the ouroborus suggests, this time of searching is ripe with opportunities and ripe with dangers. The opportunities are there to learn and to grow, to mature and evolve. The dangers, however, require a stout and courageous heart. Sometimes in the searching, we find that the religion of our youth no longer fits who we truly are. This is only a danger, however, if we are unduly attached to our childhood religion (which many of us are) or to the approval of our tribe (parents, clergy, members of the community, etc.). The greatest danger, however, in this searching phase of spiritual growth, however, is really the danger to the religious institutions to which we had been affiliated. It is for this reason that most religious institutions DO NOT provide the tools, the permission, the processes by which members can effectively searched. They are afraid that if we search, we will no longer be obedient, and that we might leave. And people are……in droves. (What would happen if our religious institutions actually gave us permission, tools and proceeses for the searching stage of spiritual development? Might we be grateful for their support, openness and acceptance and find a way to make the faith of our childhood our own????? HMMMMMM I wonder!!!) For men and women raised in Christian traditions, however, there is an even more catastrophic danger in this searching stage and a frequent casualty that makes me really sad.
How Jesus Got Dumped
The catastrophic danger and resulting casualty that I am referring to is the loss of Jesus. There are so many people I know who were raised in Christian traditions, start their searching stage of spiritual development (largely without the support of their church), find fulfillment and meaning in practices from the East (yoga, zen meditation, tai chi, etc.) or in the rituals of Wicca or Native American spirituality, and decide that Jesus is no longer relevant and might even be ridiculous. This makes me really sad! Why do we have to throw Jesus out with the bathwater? Even though the religion of our youth may no longer speak to us or we have found fulfillment in other traditions and practices, that doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t a profound teacher, healer and spiritual leader. Just because our religions have often twisted Jesus’ teachings to further their power agendas doesn’t mean his teachings are not relevant to our spiritual growth and development.
Bringing Jesus Back
People might think me insane, but I think it is time to bring Jesus back! To restore him to his rightful place as teacher, healer, prophet, spiritual leader, way-shower. Bringing Jesus back does not mean we have to believe he’s the messiah, was raised from the dead, or even the Son of God…..it just means that we can look beyond the constructs of doctrine and institutional manipulations and see the man for who he really was – a man of purpose who tried to teach us how to love. I know it is really cool these days to give honor to the Buddha, the Hindu dieties, Pagan gods and goddesses, (which all deserve their place of honor) but do we dare to make it cool to also give honor to Jesus? I’m going to try it for awhile and see what happens. Wanna join me?
How is Jesus relevant in your own journey?
What parts of the Jesus message ring as true for you?
Authentic Freedom Ministries