A true and deep spirituality comprises more than living according to rules and keeping the law. Some Christians would go as far as to label this a false religion.
People are searching for a deeper spirituality that involves love and acceptance. If we have a shallow understanding of God’s gift of forgiveness, we might end up emphasizing performance over grace. How well one follows rules/laws and do good deeds become a measure of our Christian spirituality. This fails to show how deep and wide is the love of God.
What’s worst is how this might influence the way we treat others, e.g., being judgmental and hypocritical toward others if we don’t match up to our standards of following the law. This type of spirituality can feel very unsatisfying (and be unsustainable), especially if we’re on the receiving end of judgment.
This judgmentalism and performance type of Christianity paints a false picture of God’s love and acceptance of us as God’s children. People have turned away from the church because of our hypocritical attitude towards them. The sad thing–we who might be hypocrites may not even know it, and often, we’re too busy putting up a show of being moral. It might be good for our image but bad for spiritual morale.
Paul said in First Thessalonians 1:3,
“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”
Jesus speaks of loving one another as a command (Gospel of John 13:34-35),
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
For some ex-Christians who have left the church, the ability to believe in God’s unconditional love is where it stops. After failing to live rightly and justly, and having to repent over and over again for our same old sins, some of us just give up and no longer believe because we have not experienced the love of God through others. We have been given a false image of a harsh God.
This is a lot of pressure we place upon ourselves and upon others. It becomes an unsustainable spirituality, and possibly, even a false religion. Where do we get this impression of God’s love being conditional?
If we have projected our moralism upon others, may we be humble enough to ask for God’s forgiveness. It might be a first step toward forgiveness, a deeper spirituality, and a better religion. We can do better as Christians.