Christopher B. Harbin
1st John 1:1-10
What does it mean to be spiritual? There are many definitions of spirituality floating around. For some, it means that we reference God somehow in at least every other sentence that comes out of our mouths. For others, it means going to church every time the door is open. For others, it means reading or quoting the Bible, regardless of the occasion. For others, it means speaking in tongues, describing visions, or using certain phrases and expressions. For others, it means setting aside a specific time every day for prayer and devotional readings. For others, it means avoiding sin, or at least certain sins. For whatever reason, none of those definitions seem to measure up to the living example of spirituality that Jesus modeled for us in word and deed. So what is spirituality, after all?
The Gnostics in Jesus' day understood that the spiritual could have nothing to do with the physical or material world. They defined that all things spiritual were good, while all things physical were evil. As such, they believed that God could have nothing whatsoever to do with the material world. Salvation and spirituality for them meant finding a way to escape from their physical existence so that their spirits might be cleansed to return to the spiritual realm of fellowship with God. In the meantime, many determined that their bodies might do whatever they liked, as long as some secret knowledge enabled their spiritual selves to remain separate from the contamination of the material and physical world.
John's words in this first letter are directed to the very heart of this Gnostic argument. He begins his letter talking about just how physical was the disciples' experience with Jesus. Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine alongside the disciples and crowds. They saw him physically, even though he was that Word from the beginning of creation, timeless and spiritual in essence and identity. Jesus spoke audib ...
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