The Four Spiritual Conditions – Part 1
Some times, the most difficult part of writing for me is the beginning. I have an idea, a thought, or a principle that I have internalized and digested enough that it has become an intuitive part of my thinking, and then I go to put it into words and it’s like I suddenly develop a writers version of a speech impediment. The words collide with awkward clumsiness like a teenager who’s voice is trying to catch up to his super sized sneakers. I struggle because the thought is there, and I know it’s good, but I worry that someone is going to be more concerned with the incorrect construction of this sentence than they are about the idea that I’m trying to convey.
Anyhow, I’ve started writing this particular post several times and trashed each version. It seems to me a simple enough post that I should be able to knock it before half an hour has even ticked by, but it’s already taken longer than that, and I haven’t even mentioned the point yet.
Diving In: With a lack of a proper into, I’m just going to dive right in and hope the water isn’t infested with man eating piranha.
At this very moment, you are in one of four spiritual conditions. The person in the other room, or in the cubicle beside you, and even the guy typing these words on this blog are all likewise in one of four spiritual conditions. In fact, every person walking this earth today is currently in one of four spiritual conditions. Not only can we classify ourselves in these four conditions, but if we’re willing to be honest with ourselves, we can see which direction we’re heading within them. For the sake of making them a bit easier to remember, I’ve given them each names.
Barren, Shallow, Choking, or Thriving
I don’t want to do as much kidding around in this post as I ordinarily do because I don’t think there’s anything in life as significant as taking an honest assessment of where we are spiritually. When we talk about spiritual matters, we are talking about things that have significance that is exponentially and infinitely more important than anything relating to our short lives here on earth. The decisions we make in this lifetime will set the trajectory for our eternal destiny. We should aim carefully.The decisions we make in this lifetime will set the trajectory for our eternal destiny. We should aim carefully.
Unfortunately, many people walking this planet are in the first Spiritual Condition, which I’ve called “Barren”. I approach this condition with the understanding that God has in some way or fashion made Himself known to each and every person in their lifetime. This could have been through a preacher on T.V. It could have been through a Sunday school lesson. It could have been through a Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room, or it could even have been through a blog like this one. Ultimately, God even tells us in His word, that if we’re willing to listen, even the heavens declare to us the existence of God. In some form or fashion, God’s hand has reached out to each person during their lifetime. Another understanding with this condition is that there is a spiritual blindness that exists in humanity as a result of the sin within our lives. The Bible tells us that the enemy of our souls (brace yourself, I’m going to say it), the devil, capitalizes on that condition by immediately steeling away the seed that is planted into the lives of so many of us. We may hear that television preacher and quickly turn the channel because, “Everyone knows they’re only after our money.” We might have opened the Gideon’s Bible in the hotel room, but tossed it back into the drawer because we read something that didn’t seem fair. The infamous, “If God is so…” question replaced anything we might have gained from the reading. We might have looked up into the sky on the camping trip, and for that split second that we looked at the infinite expanse, been overwhelmed by the existence of an intelligent designer behind it all, but shoved that thought away and replaced it with thoughts of a big bang theory that leaves everything to chance and futility. Our spirits are bombarded by the one that the Bible calls the ‘god of this world” as he “blinds the minds of those who don’t believe”. This attack leaves a sad majority of souls along the wayside and spiritually barren. Their lives have been robbed from any ‘God-seed’ that was planted into their lives. They aren’t without hope, God will continue to plant more opportunities and reach out to them again and again throughout this lifetime, but without a change, they will spend eternity separated from the One who they rejected throughout their lives here on earth. To willingly separate yourself from the very source of all life and good, is to willingly choose death and evil.
I know this is heavy, and it honestly saddens me to think that I’ve probably already lost quite a few readers who found this a little too preachy and judgmental. May I say that I’m not trying to judge anyone. As I write this though, I’m taking a hard look at my own spiritual condition and trying to correctly judge where I am. Jesus said that if we can fall on the rock, we’ll be broken. However, if the rock falls on us, we’ll be crushed to powder. Every individual who enters heaven will have at least this in common. We will have all admitted that we were sinners in desperate need of a savior.Every individual who enters heaven will have at least this in common. We will have all admitted that we were sinners in desperate need of a savior.
*If you are looking at your life and deciding, like I did one day, that you are in that Spiritually Barren condition and would like some help – you can keep reading, or you can skip on down to the bottom of this post and send me a message. I would love to try to point you to the One who can not only take you out of the land of barrenness, but also bring you into a land of abundance.
The Second Spiritual Condition is the “Shallow Condition”
This condition is not much better than the first. Maybe a little, but perhaps even worse. With those who are in the ‘Barren’ condition, they at least have at their defense that they’ve never really gotten to know God and His son Jesus Christ. This group is comprised of those individuals who hear that initial calling of God and jump right up and admit that they’re lost and need help. They get raise their hand at the end of the sermon, get down on their knees in the hotel room, and they say the ‘sinners prayer’ asking God into their lives without even having to give it a second thought. In fact, these people are generally some of the most excited followers of Christ in the beginning. They’re happy and excited about all the good and fun things God is doing for them. When Christ saves us, He elevates every area of our lives. He gives us an abundant life with full access to His riches in Glory to supply all of our needs. Seriously, it’s the one opportunity that can honestly be called ‘THE deal of a lifetime.’ We give Him all of our problems, all of our failures, all of our mistakes, and He gives us all of His solutions, all of His victories, and all of His ability to make things right. You might be thinking, what’s not to be excited about. I’d have to say that I agree completely, and I really don’t want to put the next word in here, but I really don’t have a choice. But… Jesus does give us all that I said, and MUCH more. He also promises us eternal life where He will someday wipe away every tear from our eyes, but He doesn’t promise us that we’ll be celebrated and loved here on earth, or that every step of following him will be on polished marble floors with stained glass vistas on the horizon. In fact, He makes it pretty clear. The choice to follow Him involves picking up a cross of our own and living a life of real and powerful love. Real love has nothing to do with the counterfeit of mood lighting, soft music, sexy bodies, or shallow passion that is portrayed in movies all across America every day. Real love has nothing to do with the counterfeit of mood lighting, soft music, sexy bodies, or shallow passion that is portrayed in movies all across America every day.I’m talking about the kind of love that lays down it’s own life for the sake of others. Sadly, when the reality of the cost of their decision to follow Christ confronts them, the “Shallow” individual turns their back and looks for an easier option. They get excited at church on Sunday, but by the time Friday rolls around, they’re in the club trying to score. They sign the ‘decision card’ but then decide that it’s just not the right time in their lives for that kind of commitment, so they postpone their choice to follow through with that decision for a more convenient time. Tragically for some, there will never be a more convenient time to follow Christ than right now.Tragically for some, there will never be a more convenient time to follow Christ than right now. They will continue to place Christ as number two on their list of priorities for the rest of their lives. The Bible tells us that those of us who have tasted the goodness of God and then turned our backs on Him will be guilty of a greater wrong than those who have never known Him at all.
If you’re in this group, allow me to be more blunt with you than any other group. Stop. If you’re still counting the cost of following Christ, then you still haven’t realized the true value of what He is offering. There is no suffering or pleasure this life has to offer that doesn’t fade into obscurity and utter insignificance when we truly see what He has in store for us who follow after Him. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” You might say that I’m using a scare tactic. I sure as hell am! You might say that I’m using a scare tactic. I sure as hell am!One fraction of a second in hell is all that it will take to instantly make you regret every opportunity that you’ve ever taken for granted to accept His grace and follow in His footsteps. My heart completely breaks right now for the individuals that I know and love dearly who are currently living in this condition. Paul said at one point that he would gladly trade places with the people he loved if it would mean they would escape the coming judgment and enter instead into the coming glory.
Here’s the bottom line friend. The underlying motivation of everything God has and is doing for us is love. He desires nothing more than your joy, happiness, and fulfillment. In fact, He loves all of us. Because of that, He cannot allow the things in our lives that will destroy ourselves or those around us. The bible calls those things sin. He also knows that we’re so broken that we can’t fix ourselves. Even if we wanted to, our willpower on it’s own isn’t strong enough to combat the sin nature that has become a part of our very being. In response to that, He has done two things. First of all, He took our place of punishment when He died a savage death on the cross. He paid the price for all of the sin in our lives so that we could stand before Him blameless. Through His death, He saved us from any punishment we would ever have coming to us as a result of our own bad choices. Secondly, He has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit. Since He understands that we don’t have the power within ourselves to change our own lives, He has offered to empower each of us by filling us with His Spirit. His Spirit then gives us the willpower that we’ve never had on our own. His Spirit enables us to say no to the temptations that have so often pulled us away from Him, and His Spirit fills us with the powerful love that enables us to walk in His steps all along life’s path and on into eternity.
You can begin this journey, or restart this journey, with a simple prayer made from the heart, and uttered with your voice. “Father, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made wrong choices. I’ve said yes to sin when I knew to say no. I understand that you sent your son, Jesus, to take the punishment that I deserve. I humbly and gratefully accept this amazing gift. I’ve tried to live right on my own before and failed miserably, so I ask today that you fill my heart and life with your Holy Spirit. Empower me to live like you and to love like You. We ask it all in the name of your son. Amen.”
That simple prayer can radically alter the trajectory of your life now and for all eternity. I’d love to connect with you if this post has impacted you in some way. Please take a moment and leave a comment. If you’ve made this commitment to Christ, then be sure to check back for part 2 of “The Four Spiritual Conditions”.