Our age constitutes a virtual conspiracy against the interior life. In our modern culture several factors are randomly flowing together in producing a climate that militates against believers in Christ developing spiritual depth with God. They are narcissism, pragmatism and unbridled restlessness.
Defined simply, narcissism means excessive self-preoccupation. Pragmatism means excessive focus on work, achievement, and the practical concerns of life. And restlessness means an excessive greed for experience; an over eating, not in terms of food but in terms of trying to drink in too much of life. Narcissism accounts for our heartaches, pragmatism for our headaches, and restlessness for our insomnia. And constancy of all three together account for the fact that we are so habitually self-absorbed by heartaches, headaches, and greed for experience that we rarely find the time and space to be in touch with the deeper movements inside of and around us. 2, 3
Thomas Merton has pointed out that the biggest spiritual problem of our time is efficiency, work and pragmatism. Once our operation is up and running there is little time or energy for anything else. Neil Postman suggests that we are amusing ourselves to death by distracting ourselves into a bland, witless superficiality. 4 Henri Nouwen reminds us that our greed for experience produces a restlessness, hostility and fantasy that blocks solitude and prayer in our lives. 5
The bottom line: Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives. 6
The net effect: Were not angry or against God; simply too preoccupied to allow the cultivation of our inner life with Him. We are more busy than bad, more distracted than non-spiritual 6 Because we are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion, we have become spiritual pygmies. In terms of spiritual fruitfulness: barren.
1) Just how vacuous, shallow, and inconsequential do we want our lives to become; tragically disconnected as many of us are from that which is holy and eternal? (I Pet. 1:14-16)
2) How do we plan to explain to the Holy Presence in the day of accounting how we squandered our lives on the trivial and temporal at the expense of being significantly engaged in (1) the vine-branch relationship with Jesus (John 15), and (2) the overarching cause of God in the redemption and maturation of His children (the people of the earth)? (Ecc. 3; I Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:18-20)
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.Our goal is to please Him. For we must stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in
this earthly body. (Isa. 30:15; 2Cor.5:9b, 10) NLT)
This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.
R. Dwight Hill
1 Jan Walgrave, Forgotten Among the Lilies (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1990), pp. 112 114; 2 The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser, (Doubleday, NY, 1999), pg. 32; 3 For detailed analysis of pragmatism, unbridled restlessness, and narcissism, see Ronald Rolheiser, The Shattered Lantern, pp. 24-43; 4 Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness (New York: Penguin Books, 1985); 5 Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out, The Three Movements in the Spiritual Life (New York: Doubleday, 1975); 6 The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser, (Doubleday, NY, 1999), pp. 32, 33.