Spiritual Atrophy

It slowly dies. Laying there–not moving–stuck within the solid cast of what is comfortable. What was once vibrant becomes a gelatinous blob.

It is what happened to my leg when I ruptured my Achilles tendon. What was once a thriving muscle, strong, capable, and functional, today after nine months of recovery is weak. Yes, at one time, it was powerful (I hate to brag…), but now it is extremely weak. I’m thinking of starting a small group with John Wall and Keven Durrant so we can give each other moral support. 

The same thing happens to us spiritually. For many of us, when we begin to follow Jesus, we work hard and develop our faith. We passionately worship. We tell others of Christ. We study the Scriptures and open up our hearts to the Holy Spirit, revealing God to us in fuller ways.

Then something happens.

Whether it’s from a wound, fatigue, arrogance, or complacency…

We stop.

Our beliefs become cemented in time as though our current revelation is infallible, and we retain all knowledge.

Of course, we don’t say that. Our action, however, shows it.

We bunker down and get comfortable with our faith.

Life in Christ should never be comfortable.

Although I too find I sometimes am.

We get comfortable, and our spiritual life is stagnant — kind of like the lukewarm water in Revelation 3. Spiritually atrophy sets in. We think that we are supposed to be comfortable. As one T-shirt said, “If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would have put them on my knees.”

We no longer work it out. Stretching it is irrelevant. Our spiritual life doesn’t stay in stasis, though. Our relationship with God slowly wastes away. It needs to be used and worked.

As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says,

“The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.” 

Wilson & Cohen

Our relationship with God is not doctrine, dogma, or theory. It is not a service or even reading the Scriptures. While these things can help us connect with God, let’s not be fooled in thinking that they are the relationship.

Just as a marriage isn’t a piece of paper, a shared bank account, children, or even sex, but a relationship founded on love and discovery. Of course, these things help bind a couple together, but if we build our relationship upon these things alone, the cells of a relationship slowly begin to disintegrate.

As atrophy sets in, we begin to think it is normal. “Oh, yes, those new Christians are so on fire. Just wait, they will settle down.” 

WHY?

Why do we accept this?

It is time to work our spiritual muscles and reject apathy, arrogance, complacency, fatigue, or anything else that causes us to settle in and settle down. The Apostle Paul says to the church in Corinth,

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Co 9:24–27

Let’s always continue to push, fight, stretch, work, and reach. Let’s follow God with intention and purpose, knowing that it is Christ and Christ alone who is the giver of life. God has called us to more than just settling in. We’ve been invited to live bigger, bolder, and better.

Checkout the resources used in this blog

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