So i just received a disturbing Email offering from "Stir the Water." The heading tells me to: "Deepen Your Relationship with God through Spiritual Exercise," and to "Experience God in a New Way." What was wrong with the old ways that Jesus himself gave me? You know being baptized, hearing His law and gospel from the pulpit, communing with Him through His Body and Blood, reading his word at home, and praying. Jesus gave me these things I think I will stay with them, not sure what the new way is but the old ways are still working. If it aint broke don't fix it sort of thing.
Then it asks a series of equally puzzling questions, I'm sure I could make sense of if I was an Evangelical. Here are a couple: "Have you ever felt truly close to Jesus? How would it change you if you could hold His hand?
Have you ever asked yourself these questions:
Where is Jesus in the room right now?
What does it mean when you see 11:11 everywhere?
What type of spiritual activity is going on here?
If you're feeling dry, maybe it's time for you to "exercise your senses" (Hebrews 4:15) and increase your faith in new and exciting ways."
Seriously what does it mean to see 11:11 everywhere? What is that a reference to? Hold Jesus Hand? I don't know that that would do anything more for me that consuming his body and blood on Sunday morning, that forgives my sin, not sure what holding his hand would do. Unfortunately for me my "homophobia" extends to Jesus, and I don't think he would make a good boy friend. I feel uncomfortable holding an Africans hand and their it is a sign of friendship only. I know that, but I can't do it.
What is spiritual activity? I don't want spiritual activity, unless it is the activity of the Holy Spirit. I know when that is happening Christ promises the Holy Spirit to us when his word is read and spoken, when the sacraments are administered according to his institution. I don't want any other spirit doing anything around me, not even my own. My own spirit gets me into trouble. (He is an arrogant, chauvinist bastard, so I make a point of drowning him every morning. Problem is, no matter how often I flush he floats to the surface.)
Lutherans don't do "Spiritual Exercises." Protestants shouldn't either. Were called to feast on God's Word, gorge yourself on it if you want. Don't worry about becoming spiritually fat.
Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, had spiritual exercises for his followers in the Counter Reformation. So why is this terminology being used by Evangelicals. like Driscoll (Or is he Emergent? I really don't care, one way or the other)? Why are we emphasizing faith "experiences"? Feeling closer to Jesus and all this? I worry when I hear things like this. Faith should be based on the word of God, not experiences. Experiences can be good. They can also be bad, and of the spiritual type there might not be much to distinguish it. Mormons are always telling me about there experience in the faith. Wiccan's have done the same. I've had a few experiences too, some while at church. I've walked into Mormon wards and have had the same sensation I had playing with a Ouija board when I was twelve. How is that for an experience?
Why don't we base our faith on the fact of the resurrection and the truth of God's word. When Jesus says he will be with us till the end of the age, we don't need to ask where He is in the room. We know where he is, and we know He forgives us our sins in the Body and Blood, given and shed for us.