Deep Change

The Spirituality of Jesus, Part 5: “Believing”

12 months ago
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The Spirituality of Jesus, Part 5: “Believing”

The Father is spirit, and He is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well.

John 4:21-24 Voice

The path to God is a deeply spiritual one. Jesus is our guide on this path. He is the one who can show us how to enter into and live with a spirituality that allows us to break free from the limits of the physical world.

This “Spirituality of Jesus” is the subject of our series. The first four installments were intended to lay a foundation for thinking spiritually. Part five begins the process of making spirituality practical.

The Spiritual Path

Don’t get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. [2] My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. [3] I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together. [4] You know where I am going and how to get there. [6] I am the path, the truth, and the energy of life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:1-4,6 Voice

Making the “Spirituality of Jesus” practical is a process. It begins with embracing the truth that Jesus himself is “the path, the truth, and the energy of life.” This understanding is made practical when we read the narrative of his life as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the embodiment of spirituality.

Believing in the “Spirituality of Jesus” in this way leads to believing he is intimately guiding our lives. Spirituality becomes a way of life, where the path we walk is the one marked out for us by Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3), the truth we believe is found in His Word (John 8:31-32), and the powerful energy flowing through us is His Spirit (Colossians 1:29).

The spirituality of part 1 and 2 will remain interesting theories until we decide to live the “Spirituality of Jesus,” which begins with being “born again.”

Born Again Spirituality

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

John 3:3–6 (NIV)

I became spiritual when I became a Christian, but I didn’t know it. Maybe you were like me. I understood the foundational truth of John 3:3-6 as a call for me to become a Christian. While this is true, viewing this Scripture solely through the lens of conversion obscures the deeper truth of why we need to become Christians.

Jesus uses the metaphor of being “born again” to explain that it is impossible for us to become spiritual without experiencing a second birth. The key is found in verse 6, where he says, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

The truth according to Scripture is that we are first born in the flesh with human parents to know, care for, and raise us into adulthood. This is human or humanistic living, by the strength of human effort, intelligence of human wisdom, and life building skills derived from human strategies. We rely on self-help, psychology, and science to navigate the physical or fleshly world, but the “Spirituality of Jesus” is much different as expressed in John 18:36:

My kingdom is not recognized in this world. If this were My kingdom, My servants would be fighting for My freedom. But My kingdom is not in this physical realm.

John 18:36 Voice

When we are “born again” something quite different begins to happen. We come in contact with and are inhabited by the Spirit of God. This is much different than getting out into the spirituality of nature, or experiencing the spirituality of meditation, because what is happening is more than entering a different state of awareness or consciousness.

Those of us who are “born again” don’t merely experience the spiritual, we become spiritual beings. Our capability extends beyond what is human. We see beyond the physical and fleshly. We sense and see the invisible, the spiritual world, which allows us to actually see God’s Kingdom (vs. 3). We become spiritual beings walking in the physical world, conquering it and changing it. Living any other way is to ignore or stifle the “Spirituality of Jesus” in our lives (I Thessalonians 5:19).

Practical Powerful Spirituality

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:23–27 NIV

Before I became a Christian, I was proudly and completely humanistic. I boasted in and relied upon my human strength, intelligence, and strategies. When I was “born again”, I joined the church but remained humanistic. My experience of Christianity was exactly as described in Galatians 3:3-4.

Are you so foolish? Do you think you can perfect something God’s Spirit started with any human effort? [4] Have you suffered so greatly for nothing – if it was indeed for nothing?

Galatians 3:3-4 Voice

The early part of my spiritual life was filled with foolishness and frustration, because I kept working humanistically. When it came to defeating sin, I created rules and restrictions to help me overcome. But as Scripture teaches, they failed due to my lack of spiritual power (Colossians 2:20-23).

Once I became a leader, my heart and character were crushed by the consequences of pride born from insecurity as well as an all-consuming anxiety rooted in my people-pleasing and fear of failure. I had become a Christian, but my lack of spirituality made my life indistinguishable from someone who was not. The reason for this is found in John 14:23, which describes the desire God and Jesus have to make their home with us.

According to John 14:24-27, God and Jesus make their home with us when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Once they have made their home with us, we are to give the Holy Spirit unlimited access to our lives (John 16:15 Voice), a process that is explained with inspiring detail in Romans 8 and Galatians 5.

When we live like this, we are living the “Spirituality of Jesus,” as spiritual beings in the physical world, conquering it, changing ourselves, and changing the world. For me, this meant abandoning harsh rules and regulations. Instead, I learned to live in the “flow” of the Spirit, allowing God to inspire a desire to please him, a sentiment best described in Philippians 2:13.

What does this look like? We conquer sin, change our character, and by doing good change the world around us. All of this is possible, because we are not walking in or being limited by our flesh, but are free in the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:16-18).

Reflect on the following questions to begin living the “Spirituality of Jesus” practically in your day-to-day life:

  1. What other paths are you tempted to take besides Jesus? How can you increase your focus on and devotion to Jesus as your spiritual path?
  2. How well do you understand what it means to be “born again”? Who can you spend time with to better understand being “born again,” and if necessary, receive help from to make this pivotal decision?
  3. How practical is your spirituality? Are you better at reading and thinking about spirituality or actually living spiritually in your day-to-day life? How could you change to live spiritually in your actions and not just your mind?
  4. Based on the first four parts of the “Spirituality of Jesus” series, write down three ways you need to change your thinking, actions, and relationships to become more spiritual.

“The Spirituality of Jesus” – read the whole series

  1. Part One: How We Search
  2. Part Two: Awakenings
  3. Part Three: Awareness
  4. Part Four: Active
  5. Part Five: Believing
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Russ Ewell serves as Director of BACC Next, where he is tasked with thinking about the future.