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On Thursday I was talking to the Kingdom Men of our Church about personal Ministry. We talked about how important it is for every man to grow spiritually in order to be the man that the Lord wants us to be. The neutral point of our discussion is that personal ministry is very important for a man to grow spiritually but that in order for this to happen a man has got to get off the bench and get into the game. We also talked about two major things that hinder men from getting off the bench and getting into the game. Many men believe they do not have what it takes, and many others believe that their sins will not let them. It is important for us to note that if we do not participate by having fellowship with others, we will not know how much we have. It is equally important to note that we are all sinners, and God will still meet us and use us in the mess of our sins. What I was telling the men easily applies to women too.
A few years ago, I read this book titled “Messy Spirituality” written by Mike Yaconelli, a rebel in every sense of the word whose understanding of Christianity is completely different from what you and I are accustomed to. When you see the picture of Mike Yaconelli you will not need any further explanation of the word messy. However, when people who had known him for ages were asked to describe him, they used phrases or words like disorganized, sincere, passionate, painfully honest, faithful, prophetic, grace-filled, grace spreader etc. Once you read this introduction of him you know you are in for a treat in what is to follow. I remember inviting my wife into his book many times as I read many seemingly incongruous things that on second thought felt so deep. Hear him: “Jesus is not repelled by us, no matter how messy we are, regardless of how incomplete we are. When we recognize that Jesus is not discouraged by our humanity, is not turned off by our messiness, and simply doggedly pursues us in the face of it all, what else can we do but give in to His outrageous, indiscriminate love?” So true but yet not universally accepted. We cannot let the knowledge of our sins keep us away from serving God. We cannot let our sins be in the way of our learning more about this loving God that we serve. The more I read “Messy Spirituality” the more I understand what the gospel of grace according to Apostle Paul means. I write this today so that we can all have a heightened sense of God’s grace in our lives.
It is important that as we seek to grow spiritually, we also understand what it means to be spiritual. One thing I found in Mike Yaconelli’s book that helps me put things in perspective is the way he defines spirituality. He says “Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of Spirituality begins where we are now in the mess of our lives.” Many of us think that when we talk about spirituality, we are talking about some out of the body experience. Some of us also believe that some folks are more spiritual than some others. Well, according to Yaconelli, and I do agree with him, Spirituality is not about competency, in which case some folks will be more competent than others. Rather our spirituality begins with wherever we are now in our journey of faith. This is what he calls the mess of our lives. This is because we are not more spiritual than each other, our spirituality is only different from each other.
Someone who used to be a drunk and gets struck by the power of God and decides now to follow God with all God-given energy is not worse than one who had the same experience 10 years ago. The question is what has been done with their lives in the ten years of His grace on their lives. We do not judge our own spirituality against another person’s situation. Our spirituality must be currently on the move and in the right direction. It never comes to perfection. So, as we are looking to spiritual growth, and enhancing our personal ministry, know that we are not going to come to a sudden perfection in our spirituality, rather our spirituality will take a turn for the better from wherever we are, no matter how messy it is. As Yaconelli will put it “we all have to overcome the idea that we must fix ourselves before we approach God, but instead we should let Him enter into our mess and fix us up for good.” This means no matter where we are in our journey, we are still fixable. Your sin is not bigger than mine and mine is not bigger than yours. In the eyes of the Lord, we are all sinners, we are all messy, and we all need to be cleaned up.
My brothers and sisters, we must allow the Holy Spirit to take complete control of our lives, but I want us to know this, and Yaconelli puts it best when he says, “Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God being present in the mess of our unfixedness. (Messy Spirituality)”; “Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.” So, we must come with a broken and contrite heart to God even in all our messiness and from there His grace will take over.
July 25, 2021 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya