Last night Jack Caldwell led a very stimulating Bible study on the question “Is Our Church Spiritual Enough?” His text was Galatians 5:22-23, which discusses the fruit of the Spirit. Jack provided a handout listing the various fruits along with a suggested opposite:
I commend Jack for leading an excellent, humorous, and thought-provoking discussion. Of course, I never know when to leave well enough alone.
While Jack asked us to think of examples where our church may have exhibited (or failed to exhibit) these godly characteristics, my mind raced over to the left-hand side of the handout. I wondered if spirituality, or the lack thereof, could really be captured on a continuum with two end points, one obviously preferable to the other. Is it not possible, I thought, to misconstrue what these positive qualities are all about and overshoot them completely? For example, might we think we’re being loving when in fact we have settled for being merely sentimental?
Rather than seeing each of these pairs as the ends of a continuum, I wondered if we might really be dealing with the three points of a triangle. The base would be made up of two “inauthentic” qualities. (For example, in my example from the previous paragraph, these would be “Sentimentality” and “Hatred.”) The truly godly attitude would be at the apex of the triangle—above them both, and often uncritically claimed by people who are actually situated nearer to the base.If so, then maybe I can slightly adjust Jack’s table to something like the following:
|No Personal Boundaries||Kindness||Cruelty|
What do you think? Does this advance the conversation, or does it merely provide cover for people’s excuses when it comes to spiritual development?