My study is in my basement, where I’m hammering out these words. A few paces through the door, past a dart board and toys, the other residents of our basement, is another door out onto a small patio under our porch. Just beyond that patio, like sentinels, stand three ornamental cherry trees. They’re beautiful and regal, with branches less like time twisted gnarls and more like a slow growth, guided by a music only the tree can hear. Those trees, as part of creation, in their very tree-ness, give God glory.
But you and I know something, have something that the cherry tree does not, an immortal soul. It was the gift that God gave to man at his creation, a gift that sets man apart from the rest of creation, crowning him as the vice-regent of God, made in his image. It is through this gift that we are able to cultivate a relationship with God to which might add the adjective spiritual. Spiritual, as a term, has been kidnapped by our culture to mean anything that is both significant and intangible. Moments of high emotion become spiritual moments. Religions that call beyond the created world are all spiritual institutions. People seasoned with dashes of mysticism are spiritual people. This is how culture uses the term spiritual but the Bible means by it something specific. Spiritual means that we can have a relationship with God.
As the Biblical story extended beyond the first three chapter of the first book of Moses we find though that humanity lost this spiritual communion with God, pushed by sin into the deep end of spiritual darkness, unable to swim. And so humans retain the capacity for spiritual connection but not the ability or the desire to connect with God as God. Instead they fashion tin cans with string, willing to connect to, to talk to any facet of creation that seems deifying. But God did not leave humanity to wallow in the gutter.
As soon as all seemed lost in that infamous third chapter so God also began to speak to and deal with men and women by grace. He began to renew them and forgive them, restoring their spiritual dial-tone, mercifully and monergistically. What was unclear about this regenerative process was made clear at the coming of Jesus, that God would pardon sin even as Jesus, the God-man, endured the punishment for sin on behalf of the pardoned. The great exchange of sin for righteousness is the basis of the great interchange of renewed people with God in worship.
We know more than the cherry tree. We know of redemption and restored relationship with God as spiritual beings. Through the Bible and prayer we have an ongoing conversation with God suited for our own circumstances and challenges. We are able to worship God even as we grow bored of worshipping his creation. If they knew better, the cherry trees would be jealous.
As we step into 2016 what does it look like for you to grow with God? Be careful of cookie cutter solutions. I am not asking you what spiritual activities you’ll pick up. I’m asking you how you will make communion with God through Christ a regular part of the year to come. Our God created us and redeemed us for a spiritual relationship with him. Will the phone line be silent on our end?
- In 2016 we’ll work our way through the first book of the Psalms (1–41). This Sunday we’ll begin with an overview of where we’ll be going and the study of Psalm 1. Check out this brief video if you want to get excited about the Psalms.
- January is a great time, as I mention above, to take stock of where you are with God and create rhythms of communing with him in the Bible and prayer. Our new Monthly Psalm Reading plan will be available in print this Sunday. Let an elder know if you’d like any other advice on how to connect with God in 2016.
- January is also a great time to begin budgeting for the year to come. Money challenges are at the top of the list for causes of anxiety and family conflict. Why not make a budget or setup your plan for giving to Christ Covenant.
- Remember that you are the best advertising our church has. If you love what God is doing at Christ Covenant invite someone to church. If you know someone who isn’t currently walking with Jesus invite them to church. If you know someone who might be curious about the Christian gospel invite them to church.