Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thatcherite Spirituality vs Church Going

Mrs Thatcher (in)famously said, “There is no such thing as society”. The Thatcherite 1980’s gave birth to a consumerist society where the wants of the individual are prized above the needs of the community. I would like to reflect on “Thatcherite spirituality”. This is not an attempt to assess the personal spirituality of Baroness Thatcher. What I would like to discuss is the privatisation of religion in terms of “spirituality”. For many people, this has replaced the more community-based approach to the spiritual life that involves belonging to a Church.

People often claim, “I don’t go to Church or anything, but I’m really quite a spiritual person.” What lies behind such a statement is what I call “Thatcherite spirituality”. This is spirituality viewed as a personal quest. The great aim is self-improvement. What matters in the pursuit of spiritual fulfilment is not truth, but whatever makes you feel OK. “If it looks like it works, and feels like it works, then it works!” People take a fragment of Christian morality, mix it with New Age mysticism, light up the joss-sticks and lo and behold, they have got “spirituality”. How cool is that?

Christian spirituality is different from “Thatcherite spirituality. The Christian knows that we were made by and for the true God. Any attempt to find spiritual satisfaction apart from enjoying and glorifying him are bound to end in empty disappointment.

Christian spirituality is about God reaching down to us, revealing himself to us in the Bible and reconciling us to himself through Jesus Christ. We only seek God because he first seeks us and awakens us to seek him with all our hearts. This is God-centred, not “my need centred” spirituality.

Christian spirituality is focussed on Jesus Christ. He is the only mediator between God and human beings. He has entered our world as a human being. Jesus died for our sins on the cross and rose from the dead. He lives as the only true Lord and Saviour of needy human beings. By believing in Jesus, we are put right with God. In him we are given the hope of eternal life. God is revealed to us truly, fully and finally in Jesus Christ. God has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Christian spirituality leads to involvement in a Christian community. In the New Testament, “Church” does not mean the building in which people meet, but the people themselves. Christians are called to spiritual growth by being involved in Church life. We are called to “love one another”, “forgive one another” and “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ.” The Church is not a perfect society; it is a community of ordinary, flawed people who have experienced the transforming power of Jesus. By worshipping together, learning together and caring for each other, Christians grow into spiritual maturity. This is different from self-absorbed “Thatcherite spirituality”. There is such a thing a society. God’s society is the Bible believing and practicing Church. The Church in turn, reaches out to the wider society in word and deed with the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

So, see you in Church?

3 comments:

Ben Myers said...

Good post, Guy. I think you're exactly right.

Exiled Preacher said...

Thanks Ben. We agree at last :-) !

Theway2k said...

Yes indeed, a good post.