There is a strong propensity in Christian culture to over spiritualize. I sometimes use the term “over-spiritualize” to define interpreting events in our life that exceed their intended meaning, or when an event is over-compensated with implications that God had orchestrated it.
As a follower of Jesus, it is tempting sometimes to find a profound spiritual meaning in something that moved me emotionally. While there is certainly a spiritual nature to everything, sometimes we forget God made us as emotional beings so we feel deeply because we are made human, not because of divine intervention.
In some ways we are afraid of not making something spiritual because we feel the need to legitimize the events or happenings in our ongoing life. We want our experiences to be important, really important. We fear not having an important life. Sometimes the desire to live a life that matters can be the trigger for over-spiritualizing.
In other ways we have an over developed understanding of God’s sovereignty. We think He’s personally intervening all the time. If God is intervening in our stuff all the time we paint a picture of a God who is obsessed with the minutia of “my life” as much as I am. When we credit God for intervening we come across ignorant of the reality that at this moment 29,000 mothers are begging God to save their starving child while we’re convinced God made a certain song come on the radio just to send us a personal message.
Jesus purposed to point out reality verses God’s activity. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus mentioned a recent tragedy about some Galileans who were killed by the Romans. Many expected Him to say that their deaths were from God’s hand. Yet, in mentioning the collapse of the tower of Siloam, Jesus taught that events like these come upon everyone, regardless of their behavior. Many of today’s Christians would interpret such a situation as an act of God when it is actually a result of living in the world.
The danger in over-spiritualizing something is that we put too much value on one thing and in so doing take away value from the more important things. The odd thing is, when we over-spiritualize we actually create emotional confusion about what God is up to in this world. We create a consciousness that is waiting for a “movement of God.” We create a God that is without who intervenes in dramatic ways instead of a God who is within in the form of the Holy Spirit striving with us to bear fruit in the routine of our life.
Sure there’s more of an emotional return to claim “God gave me such and such” or “told me such and such” but God’s activity is primarily birthed on the battle ground of relationships. The New Testament creates a new pipeline for His voice and this is through the gritty rub of a living into community. The sober reality is that the Bible never uses the word “personal” to speak of God’s relating with us. There are no phrases throughout the entire New Testament like “a personal walk with God” or “a personal relationship with God.” The supernatural and practical reality of a community struggling out submission to Jesus is the primary conduit in which we hear, see and feel God. Over-spiritualizing can be really unspiritual.