I just finished reading Peter Scazzero’s The Emotionally Healthy Church. A good read. This particular paragraph in the Introduction caught my attention:
The sad truth is that too little difference exists, in terms of emotional and relational maturity, between God’s people inside the church and those outside who claim no relationship to Jesus Christ. Even more alarming, when you go beyond the praise and worship of our large meetings and conventions and into the homes and small-group meetings of God’s people, you often find a valley littered by broken and failed relationships. (p.17)
He argues in the book, that emotional health and spiritual maturity is a large, unexplored area of discipleship. What we have done, however, is to give emotional issues to the therapist while the church takes care of the "spiritual" issues. These, as Scazzero argues, are actually linked and are a part of a fully biblical discipleship.
Yesterday, I started reading Rodney Clapp’s new book, Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels. (Eugene Peterson calls this book, "The freshest contemporary approach to Christian spirituality that I am aware of"). He makes the case for Christ-following that involves the whole person, including the body.
Why is all of this important? The most important reason is faithfulness to Jesus in following him. He has called us to a life of surrender, dependency on him , and service.
It is also important because separating the emotional/relational self (or even the body) from the "spiritual" has created some troubling and even bizarre situations among Christians. Some of these (some of these are Sazzero’s and some are mine) include:
- The man who has taught for years in adult Bible classes and yet his adult children resent him and his wife smolders with anger over years of neglect.
- The woman who volunteers for most everything at church while neglecting her health thinking that she is doing what God wants.
- The church leader who can never say "I was wrong."
- The high control kind of person who has a way of wearing people out as he persists in trying to get others to share his opinions.
- The ministry leader who sees any difference of opinion as a personal attack.
- The man or woman who continues pushing people away and at the same time can’t understand why he/she doesn’t have friends.
Following Jesus (or growing spiritually) means that my entire life heart, mind, emotions, and body come under his Lordship. Now that might cause us to deal with somethings that are uncomfortable…