How to Deepen Your Spiritual Walk in 2014
Interview by V. Michelle Bernard
Want to improve your spiritual health in 2014? Bodgon Scur, associate professor of religion at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., recently talked with V. Michelle Bernard about everyday ways you can deepen your relationship with God. Scur has taught religion for 12 years and currently teaches a class on Christian spiritual formation.
Q: What do you think is most central to better spiritual health?
A: There are no mystical methods for changing ourselves. Christ on the cross must be a central element in our spiritual transformation. I’m growing in appreciation and understanding on how essential it is to take time daily to remember the cross of Christ and His resurrection. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the heart of how we are changing and how we grow spiritually.
There is an astounding potential in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the cross and resurrection our guilt before God is removed and we are given a new life. In the cross and resurrection there is power to overcome sin. That is why the cross of Christ is so central. It keeps us humble and hopeful.
Q: Can you suggest some tools for accomplishing this?
A: My recommendations are not necessarily tools. The most important thing for spiritual life is to learn the gospel (I mean the righteous life, death and resurrection of Jesus) and apply it to all areas of your life, but here are some other things you can do:
- Be faithful in your Bible studies and prayer life. Put it in your daily schedule.
- Find a like-minded friend who will hold you accountable for your spiritual growth.
- Attend church regularly and serve your neighbors.
- Engage in the life of your community by reaching out to people around you who are not believers.
Q: Why do you think these habits are particularly important to us as Seventh-day Adventists?
A: We do them without calling them spiritual disciplines. In the Spirit of Prophecy, Ellen White encourages prayer, regular church attendance and encourages serving your neighbor—all those practices are spiritual disciplines. Whether we call them as such, we should do them. They are biblical and theologically sound, and they make a difference.
Q: How important is it to regularly take an inventory of our spiritual health? Why?
A: It is important, but we shouldn’t do it very often. Occasionally we should stand back and look at where we are spiritually, but that shouldn’t be a primary focus.
Obsessive and constant introspection can paralyze. We see the problem, see the darkness, sin and failure in us. That can discourage and depress us. We must not dwell on that. Change does not take place by looking at ourselves. It takes place by looking at Somebody else outside of us.
Q: How can meditation and fasting be used to improve our spiritual health? Are there wrong and right ways to practice them?
A: Meditation is a biblically-based spiritual discipline, but there is a wrong way to use it. I wouldn’t suggest using transcendental meditation or any ways of meditating that are non-Christian. There is a fundamental difference between how Christians and non-Christians meditate.
Don’t just think about nothing, saturate your mind with the Word of God. When it permeates your mind, it spills over into action. We then start reasoning and making decisions the way the Bible advises.
I advise my students if you only have 15 minutes, spend five reading Scripture and then 10 take minutes trying to understand the text and how it applies to your life.
You can also fast from other things besides food. Fasting for me is being desperate for God, more desperate than you are to eat good food. When we fast we say to God, ‘I want You more than I want to eat. I desire Your Spirit and presence in my life more than I desire to eat.’ That honors God Who hears those prayers.’