He is not here; he has risen! (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 1)


“If you were to fall into the sea, and were that sea infinite, you would fall from one depth to another for all eternity. This is how it is with the Christian who is continuously abiding in him. He is sinking with inconceivable swiftness to the most inward depths of God.” Jeanne Guyon

“Put out into deep water…” Luke 5:4

No one plans to be a shallow Christian. But it does take some forethought and action to be a deeper one. Deep spirituality doesn’t happen by default.

Some people are shallow in their walk with God simply because they didn’t realize that the form of faith that was modeled to them and into which they were invited was shallow from the start. Superficiality is all they know, all they’ve been exposed to.

Others were blessed with a better beginning and were on a trajectory to dive progressively deeper into the mystery of who God is, but somewhere along the line they got waylaid and took a detour into a decidedly thin version of Christianity. Their faith became increasingly trivial. They read the Bible, pray, go to church most Sundays, give offerings, and even help other people when they get a chance; but their spirituality is more superficial than not.

Spiritual revelation is the crux of getting started in the faith and going deeper. Religion without revelation is just that, religion––an empty shell. We are initiated into our friendship with God with a revelation of the saving Person and work of Jesus. But salvation is only the beginning of the things the Spirit reveals. Problem is, some are content with a salvation revelation and stop there. They shut the door to exploring the realm and Person of God any further and have no expectation or intention of delving any deeper. It’s like purchasing your tickets for Disneyland and spending the day riding the first ride you see, over and over.

Allow me to share a few passages that have been inviting me lately into a deeper place in God.

When Jesus told the twelve of his crucifixion, they did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. Luke 18:34

Mark added to the story, “and they were afraid to ask him.” If that’s not a sign of superficial faith I don’t know what is. When you know there’s something more, something you’re not seeing, but you don’t really want to know what it is, afraid of how it might affect your life; you can be pretty sure you’re wading in the shallow end.

One of the causes of such shallow faith is that we don’t know how to go deeper and we’re afraid to ask lest someone malign us for doubt or weak faith. “To whom much is given,” Jesus said, “much will be required.” You’re responsible for what you know, so the solution is to not know. And the best way to keep from knowing is don’t ask.

So, there are consequences to intentional ignorance. One of them is we look for Jesus, not where he is, but where he used to be, like the women at the tomb.

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:6-8

“He’s not here.” Ominous words! I don’t like the sound of them.

He was here. The last time they saw him he was there. How is it that he’s not there now?

Jesus is not always where we would expect him to be. He’s not as static as we’d like him to be. He’s not always where we think he should be. He should be in our in our church on Sunday mornings the way he used to be or in our rigidly devised daily devotions. We can’t even find him in the doctrines that we held in such high esteem. We’ve held them so high that now they obscure our view of him. If he’s not in our statement of faith, where can he be found?

If we’re going to encounter him we’ll have to look, not only where he was, but beyond.


“Then they remembered…”

They didn’t remember what he’d said about his resurrection because they didn’t want to know in the first place. So they looked for him where they expected he’d be, not where he told them he’d be.

They looked for him among the dead when he said he’d be among the living. They came to embalm their memory of him, but he wasn’t embalm-able! He wasn’t even available to be embalmed. Something was going on for which they had no categories.

Embalmed memories are not nearly the sort of faith the Jesus died and rose again to bequeath to his heirs.

Then finally, thank God, “they remembered.”

It’s hard to remember something we didn’t know or want to know to begin with. If we don’t understand, we must ask, even if we’re afraid of what it might cost us. Once they overcame their fears, these same reluctant followers of Jesus became a force to be reckoned with. They let go of their preconceived ideas about what it meant to be disciples of an unpredictable resurrected Leader and dived into the deep end!

Let’s go and do likewise.

Next time we’ll ask ourselves if we’d even recognize Jesus if he showed up at our dinner table…


Have you read and / or shared with others my brief memoir. The profits all go to Freedom House.

8 Replies to “He is not here; he has risen! (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 1)”

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