As you’ve surely noticed, everyone is “spiritual” today. I saw a USAToday survey where even a majority of atheists consider themselves “spiritual” people. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard anyone say, “You know, I’m just not a spiritual person.”
What is spirituality?
Perhaps for many spirituality simply means spending time occasionally in personal reflection. For others maybe it means consciously trying to live by certain principles, or attempting to be thoughtful on important issues like the environment or homelessness.
However, the common perception of spirituality is not the biblical one. I’m writing from the perspective that spirituality includes—but transcends—the human spirit, and involves the pursuit of God and the things of God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with God’s self-revelation (that is, the Bible).
Spirituality and the Gospel
This kind of spirituality is not self-generated; rather it is one result of the new spiritual life that God creates in the soul as He works through the Gospel. In other words, Christian spirituality is part of a life lived in response to the Gospel. In theological terms, spirituality is an aspect of the sanctification which necessarily begins at and follows justification.
Think of it this way: we come to God through the Gospel and we live for God through the Gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Colossians 2:6). It is through the Gospel by faith that we receive Christ, and it is through the Gospel by faith that we walk in Christ.
The Gospel—in a word—is Jesus. In a phrase, the Gospel is the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s why we can speak of the Christian life as a Gospel-centered life. We come to God initially on the basis of faith in who Jesus is and what He has done for us. And we continue to come to God and to live a life pleasing to Him on the same basis. To paraphrase Paul in Galatians 3:3, having begun by the Spirit through the Gospel, we are perfected (that is, sanctified; made like Christ) in the same way—by the Spirit through the Gospel.
In part two of this post, I write about the role of the Spiritual Disciplines in a Gospel-centered life and also Gospel-centered Spiritual Disciplines in practice.
To read part two of this post, click here.