In an engaging and insightful book, Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Heart, Robert Wuthnow identifies some of the criticism that has been voiced in recent years about spirituality in the broader culture. One of the most recurrent criticisms is that too many Americans shop around for spiritual cues, rather than settling into communities of faith where they can learn discipline or serve others. Spiritual seeking draws criticism because it seems to reflect a shallow consumerist mentality.
Against this consumerist mentality, Holy Scripture, the Bible announces that an authentic relationship with God is rooted in a personal engagement in all that God is doing in the world. It is an announcement from personal gratification to participation in God’s activity; from an inward spirituality to an outward commitment to disciple the nations. Quick routes to personal gratification may be an easier course to navigate, but is a pilgrimage that is unknown in Scripture and one that fails to encounter the deep mysteries of faith.
This failure to navigate the deeper waters of faith leaves people standing on the shore of God’s promises, rarely encountering God in a fashion that results in transformation. Discouragement settles in, and those who claim to follow Christ wonder if there is not something more. In more than twenty-six years of ministry, I have met many who have derisively commented that faith failed to do anything for their lives. In each instance, my unspoken question has been, “What exactly did you do to care for and nurture that faith?”