A Spirituality of Self Acceptance
In christian spirituality we are not trying to rid us of ourselves, we're allowing God's divinity to bring to flourish the full magnificence of who we are and how he has made us.
You may have already noticed this but spirituality is not exclusive to Christianity. In fact, I'd argue that when it comes to spirituality, christians on the whole can seem far more confused than many others. Eastern mysticism for example embraces the divine imprint we carry as they've searched for new ways to experience oneness with God and others. In the 60's pop culture even followed suit and sought to connect with spirit through LSD and free love.
I'm no expert in all the various forms of spirituality in the world but there is one thing that I've noticed in the few friends of mine from new age or eastern backgrounds and it's this; Christianity is quite different in that it's not attempting to rid us of our bodies, but to redeem them. Contrary to what the futurist doomsdayers may teach, God is very interested in our being whole right now, in this life. Jesus taught wholeness practices like loving our enemies, being philanthropic, forgiving those who hurt us and even practicing meditation and contemplation ("consider the lilies of the field..")! When Jesus taught us about life it wasn't to protect us from poorly sized bach's in eternity, it was to redeem our lives today in the here and now. His hope is that we will live whole, loving and humble lives here on earth and that we would change the world around us in the process.
Christian spirituality takes us deeper into our bodies and selves in order to restore wholeness to us in this life.
Many other forms of spiritual connection draw us out of ourselves, LSD does that, some forms of meditation do that, astro-travel and the like do it too. But Christianity values our earthiness and seeks to make us even more so while simultaneously growing our godly awareness. In other words, we're not running from ourselves, trapped in a body-prison and simply awaiting freedom. The Spirit within us is freedom and spoiler alert, we will be resurrected into a physical body! Jesus has a body and is perfect, he was resurrected in his body and it's not just a new heavens we're receiving but a new heavens and a new earth. If a body was good enough for Jesus then it must be good enough for us. In the early days of Christianity this was one of the great scandals of our belief. It's offensive to many other forms of spirituality to imagine that our bodies (including our desires, longings and actions) are actually good!
Your body (or your flesh as the New Testament calls it) is depicted in the Greek as entirely neutral in the New Testament. The same word used for flesh in a negative sense in the book of 1 John is also used of Jesus, the Word becoming flesh. So it's up to us how we use our bodies, in spiritual light and godliness, or in spiritual darkness and selfishness but either way our flesh is the neutral actor in this scenario. Jesus' teaching showed us how to bring our bodies into the light so we could be living examples of tomorrow, today. In fact, he went even further and told us that we, his children right now on earth are his body! If our bodies are good enough for God to consider his own, then it should be good enough for us.
So, what does this all mean? It means that christian spirituality has something incredible to offer to a world longing to find peace amidst who they are. Through Jesus' invitation we do not have to get outside ourselves to be free, we simply have to respond to God's invitation for him dwell within us. We are not trying to overcome our bodies by transcending them, we're trying to overwhelm our bodies by inviting God to transform it himself from within.
It's a totally different spiritual direction and a totally different hope.
We get to chose which nature we live out of now, the nature of the Spirit within us who gives our bodies and person life, or the nature we had before we met Him which drives us toward insecurity and low self worth. In Jesus who are we is totally loved and accepted.
"You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?...God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple."
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Here's where we come back to our journal title, christian spirituality is not a spirituality of denying our earthiness but accepting it. It's abut accepting that we naturally crave things that are self destructive because we'd forgotten the divine DNA we have that drives us toward 'other' love?????. Then, we accept that once we ask him to, Jesus dwells in us through his Spirit and he loves it! He enjoys being one with us as he transforms us and teaches us to love our bodies again through the acts of the beatitudes, prayer, contemplation and song. So, despite how it may appear at times, Christian spirituality helps us to remove the body/spirit duality. We are no longer two people, we are one. We have nothing to hide from a God who see's it all and still loves us and our bodies are now that of Christ's himself. We are his living, breathing poetic presence on the earth and he's a proud Father who enjoyes the beauty of it.
We're not longing for a disembodied eternity where the issues of the "flesh" are left behind. We're longing for a creation not separated any longer from the divide we ourselves created when we stole our bodies away from goodness and truth. It's already breaking in, and it will be finished soon enough.