Christianizing or Spiritualizing Complexes
"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, it if is not accompanied by action, is dead."1
I recall an occasion when I was going through a difficult time of discouragement and shared this with a friend whose immediate response was, "Are you in the Word [meaning was I reading the Bible enough], Dick?"
I felt more discouraged and replied, "Joan, what do you do when you are hungry?"
"I get the point," she answered.
"What I need right now is an understanding and supportive friend," I replied.
Certainly I believe in reading the Bible and praying daily and "walking with God" but does that take away our pain when we are hurting, and does that meet the need of a lonely or hurting heart? No, of course not.
When Elijah, following his great victory on Mt. Carmel, was being threatened by Queen Jezebel who wanted him killed, he ran some forty miles for his life and was so depressed that he sat under a tree and wanted to die. So God sent an angel to him, and did the angel say, "Elijah, get up and pray?"
No. The angel said to Elijah, "Get up and eat!"
Elijah was emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted. What he needed was a good feed. Sometimes that's what we need, too, or a good hug or someone just to listen, to care, and understand, not to give advice or try to fix us, but just to be there and give us their presence—and certainly not to spiritualize or Christianize an everyday normal human need by giving a spiritual answer for a non-spiritual need or problem.
In today's Bible passage James had it right. True religion is not only to "walk with God" but to understand people and their immediate needs, and to minister to them at that point of need—just as Jesus always did.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be sensitive to people's felt and immediate needs and help meet them at their point of need. And deliver me from the insensitivity of giving them an irrelevant empty 'spiritual cliché' answer. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 2:16-17 (NIV).