What Does Spiritual Depth Look Like?

by | Oct 3, 2012 | Church Leadership

The word “deep” is a dangerous word in church world today. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say they’re leaving a particular church because it’s not “deep” enough for them. Or they’re going to go to a different church because it’s “deep.” I’ve even heard people criticize pastors because the sermon they gave that weekend wasn’t “deep.” In fact I’ve even been on the receiving end of a statement like that a time or two (ouch). But what does spiritual depth really look like? What does “deep” mean?

1. Emotionally moving:

For some people “depth” is an emotion. If they teared up and were moved during a sermon, then it was deep. If that’s really the definition of deep then I can show you a movie or two that are deep. I cried like a baby at the end of “Marley and Me.” Hey don’t judge, I also cried at Gladiator, Braveheart, and the list goes on. See I do have a soft side. If being emotionally moved is really the definition of deep then 2 year olds and teenagers going through puberty are really deep.

2. Academic exercise:

For some people “depth” is an academic exercise. It’s all about a particular method of studying the scriptures. Expository versus Topical…now there’s a good fight we can get into. You know this is at play when you hear people proudly use phrases like, “We’re a people of the Word!”  A scientific method of bible study sadly doesn’t make someone deep.

3. Intellectual information:

For some people depth is all about new information. Is there a new piece of information I can learn, a new fact, a piece of church history, maybe something from the original languages? While all of this may be very intriguing, it’s not all that deep. If knowledge and information = depth then you’ve got to ask yourself, “Who were the most knowledgeable of the Scriptures when Jesus was walking the earth?” Answer: the Pharisees. I don’t think crucifying Jesus was very deep.

4. Confusion:

For others still depth is about not being able to truly know anything. In other words, if I can’t understand it then it must be deep. If the pastor uses big words, cute sayings, sounds smart, but I can’t understand what the heck he’s trying to say, it must be deep. Unfortunately deep isn’t confusing. If spiritual depth is about any of these above four ideas on this list then spiritual depth is all about the presenter. But in the passage below Jesus tells a parable about two houses that were built, one on a foundation of sand and the other on a stone foundation. In both cases the builders heard the Word of God, but only one of the builders put what he heard into action. Could it be that spiritual depth according to the Scriptures is simply putting God’s Word into action?

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one whohears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:46-49

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