Experts highlight the importance of regularly checking on one's spiritual health so that Christians are on track to becoming true followers of Jesus Christ.
One of these experts is the inspirational author and Christian podcaster Tamara Chamberlain whose February 2019 blog post entitled, "4 Questions To Gauge Your Spiritual Health," reminded the faithful how easy it is to be derailed from authentic discipleship. Chamberlain pointed out that it is tragic to be misled into thinking one has become more like Jesus when one is not. It's a place no Christian wants to be it yet harder to admit one is actually in.
The mother of two from South California and co-founder of the Kainos Project then directed Christians to take time to reflect on several questions to gauge their spiritual health. These are: "What Do Your Prayers Sound Like?", "What Current Sin Are You Struggling With?", "Are People More Familiar With What Your Faith Is Against Or What It's For?", and "What Has God Done In Your Life Recently?"
1. Listen To Your Prayers
Chamberlain recounted an experience where a pastor asked her if her prayers were Gospel-centered or self-centered. The difference lies in the latter being requests that are "ends unto themselves" such as asking God for strength, protection, and one's needs. She said that though God wants His children to tell Him all their needs out of His love and care, the Christian "faith is not simply self-serving."
Chamberlain cited Philippians 1:9-10 where the Apostle Paul reminded the church of Philippi that prayer is "far more about their lives in Jesus" but on the "Gospel transforming their lives than anything else."
"In fact, God tells us we should come to him with all things. But if this is the only conversation we are having with God, then maybe we are not as focused on Jesus and what he came to do as we think," Chamberlain stressed.
In a video on spiritual health, the Loma Linda University echoes Chamberlain's call to go beyond oneself in the practice of one's faith. The university highlighted the importance of incorporating positive religiosity into one's life.
Loma Linda University researchers Dr. Mark Reeves, a surgical oncologist, and Patricia Kelikani, a health journalist, explained that there are two aspects of religiosity: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic religiosity is "primarily for social reasons and praying in order to relieve your own suffering."
While intrinsic religiosity "focuses on others," which the researchers discovered is more beneficial to one's overall health and longevity. Spiritual health directly affects physical health and vice versa.
"It's just like the Great Commandment: 'Love God, love your neighbor,'" Reeves emphasized.
The researchers suggest taking time to reflect daily on how one can help others--family, friends, coworkers--or someone else have a great day before acting on it. They also suggest reflecting on the benefits brought by challenges and hard times by asking God about it. In gist, this translates to seeing life with a heart for others and God whenever one prays.
2. Identify Your Habitual Sins
The life of a Christian involves a lot of sanctification until one become more like Jesus who is sinless and blameless, Chamberlain stressed. But the author warned of the tendency to become arrogant once the "large" sins in one's life have been removed and that there only "little" ones left. She said this may make one becomes self-righteous and judgmental of others.
Chamberlain underscored that sin is sin. Christians need to see it for it is regardless of whether it is large or little. Everyone is in desperate need of the mercy of God because one repeatedly sins and this is why it is important to recognize one's sins, she said.
3. Analyze Your Manner Of Witnessing
According to Chamberlaine, Christians need to be conscious of how they are fulfilling the mission Jesus has given them, which is to proclaim the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth.
The blogger focused on the how part of witnessing, which entails not only educating the world on what is being done against the teachings of Jesus but "to point them to Jesus through our faith."
"But if the only thing we ever do is point out how people are not living the way they're supposed to, then we've missed it. Jesus constantly talks about sharing the truth in love," Chamberlaine said.
4. Be Keen To God's Movement In Your Life
Having a quick and clear response on what God has recently done in your life conveys one's awareness that one is a work in progress in God's hands. Chamberlain said it is wonderful to be aware that one has been saved by God at some point in one's past but it is more wonderful to be aware that God is continuously working in one's life and is not stopping until one's faith has fully grown. The author stressed that putting one's "faith in Jesus is not the sum total of everything Jesus has done or will do in" one's life.
A matter California-based blogger and therapist Jed Chun reinforced in a February 2020 series in Joy Is Found. Chun, also a regular contributor to Inheritance Magazine, added a communal dimension to gauging one's spiritual health. He recounted being taken aback during one of his regular sessions with a client who asked how he was doing spiritually. The therapist admitted not being prepared to answer because it was a long time since he encountered that question.
Chun said that he realized after some retrospective analysis that God is asking him to move to a different stage in his spiritual life. This he has seen in how he has come to interpret what "community" is. He disclosed he originally understood that a community is a group of people he regularly sees because of being in the same age level or of having the same circumstance. He stressed this has been transformed into an understanding involving one and anyone he constantly shares Christ with.
"There was probably a small part of me that knew that the new community I now found myself a part of, although different, was still an avenue through which God was moving and working in my life...The clarity hindsight helps and, with a fresh perspective, it's easier to see now that...community in Christ is utterly recognizable in the continued moving of the Holy Spirit in being together," Chun shared.
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