Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2nd Corinthians 13:5 NIV
Social strife, race riots, job losses, censorship, inflation, lockdowns, school closures and the weirdest pandemic in history. The last few years have been unlike any other in history.
Tough times take a toll, psychologically, emotionally and financially. The tough times will begin to affect us spiritually if they go on for too long and it’s not always easy to know when stress has become too much for us and we have stepped over the line into a place of spiritual unhealth. In 2nd Corinthians 13:5 the Apostle Paul encourages Christians to “examine themselves” frequently. Times like ours demand frequent self-checks. Following are five indicators all is not well with our souls.
Prayer is a struggle or worse yet you gave up long ago-
Christians are commanded to pray about everything all the time (Romans 12:12, 1st Thessalonians 5:17, 1st Timothy 2:1-3). God does not need our prayers. God has no needs (Acts 17:24-25). We need to pray because prayer builds connection with God. Ongoing connection with God transforms how we think, feel and behave over time. Prayer also empowers fallible human beings to see people and events the way God sees people and events. Without a regular prayer life spiritual health becomes nothing more than a pipedream. A weak or non-existent prayer life is proof positive a spiritual realignment is needed.
You have morphed into worst version of yourself-
Everyone has a unique worst version of themselves. Mine is introverted, distrustful, and weirdly obsessed with minor details. Yours might be dramatic, braggy and fixated on personal pleasure. Another person might be critical, unforgiving, and intolerant of differences of opinion at their worst. It’s vital we know who we are, and have a firm grasp on what our “normal” looks like. When our normal morphs into something different and less than healthy than our best selves it’s a sure sign we need a spiritual readjustment. Pronto.
Politics take precedent-
Politics are not trivial. There is little in this life not touched in some way by politics. Furthermore, one facet of being a good Christian is being an involved citizen. That means taking our civic responsibilities seriously, which cannot be done without some understanding of politics. (1st Peter 2:13). That said, earthly kingdoms all pass away, eventually. It’s critical we understand politics are strictly an earthly issue. (Philippians 3:20). There will be no republicans or democrats in heaven. Therefore God calls His people to adopt an eternal perspective and remember it is only what we do in and for the Kingdom of God that truly has an impact. If you find your attention is entirely focused on the political realm I guarantee God wants to change your focus.
You’re afraid all the time-
Fear and anxiety are a little bit like the check engine light in a car. Feelings of fear and anxiety are not the real problem. They are just an indicator there is another problem that needs to be found and addressed. Sometimes Christians get far too focused on the emotions of fear and anxiety and don’t stop to ask God why to reveal the real reason those volatile emotions are out of control. Fear and anxiety are almost always a sign there is an area of our lives we haven’t completely surrendered to God.
Spiritual community is not a priority-
Spiritual community is not really optional for followers of Jesus (2nd Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25). Christians are called to meet together regularly, care for each other in times of trouble and love one another other deeply and sacrificially. The only way to do those things effectively is in spiritual community. Community is about more than church attendance although church is the place to begin building spiritual community. Spiritual community forms when a group of Jesus followers commit themselves to the good and growth of the rest of the group. There are layers to community. Every Christian should attend a local church. Christians should also have a group of fifteen to thirty Christian friends they routinely fellowship with. Christians also need a smaller group of three to five people we can go deep with and be real with on a regular basis. If any of those layers of community are lacking, there is a problem.
Any one of the above is a sure sign all is not well with our soul.
Getting back back on track spiritually is all about regaining our mental and spiritual health. In order to do that we have to be willing to make some hard choices with our time and energy. Getting healthy will cutting out or cutting way down on empty, soul-sucking activities like streaming services, television and social media.
Cutting those activities helps to make time for the friendships and spiritual community. Spiritual community has a bolstering effect on our emotional and spiritual health. We must be willing to make time for people we love who have the spiritual maturity to help us reset spiritually. Gettin back into the word on a daily basis (Psalms is a good place to start in tough times) reminds us of God’s deep love for us and gives us something to meditate on something besides our troubles or feelings. Reclaiming spiritual health is not difficult but it does require a willingness to reset. We need more Jesus, more reflection, more family and friends and sometimes more repentance.