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“Online” Spirituality: The Challenge Of Our Time

In modern terminology, to be online refers to being connected to the internet so that you can use its services. Cloud storage is what allows one to save data and files in an off-site location accessible either through the internet or staying online. Storing files online and solely in the cloud has its advantages, but it also comes with some disadvantages. Security concerns are common with online based services. No matter the up-to-date technologies to secure data online or in the cloud, there are still occasional breaches. When you use a cloud provider, data is no longer on your physical storage. Being able to view, access and move one’s data at will is another common concern with online resources. Indeed, delays in transmission to and from the cloud can occur as a result of traffic congestion. The few listed problems associated with online storage make depending on it solely for one’s operations risky and unreliable. Staying offline as opposed to online is operating independently or disconnected from the internet. The wisest thing to do is to have a copy of the data downloaded or hosted on a stand-alone device for easy and reliable access, usually referred to as an offline version of that data.

The new birth in Christ Jesus is known as the born-again experience. It is a spiritual birth by the Holy Spirit that comes through faith in Christ Jesus. A free-to-download folder called the Holy Spirit, whose operating system is Jesus Christ, is shared in our hearts after accepting the gospel. Born again believers are, therefore, required to bear the fruit of this received folder which has about nine fundamental files. According to Galatians 5:22-23, they are Love, Peace, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Once this is downloaded, it syncs with one’s spirit and soul. The individual then becomes the light and salt in their environment for all to see and enjoy. Unfortunately, some have not even attempted to click on the downloading button on the keypad of their hearts at all. It is a decision made not to click on that button because they do not want to be distracted by the constant alert and notification by the Holy Spirit that pops up when they attempt to gratify the desires of the flesh. For them, just having the folder located at one corner of their hearts and only accessible when they go “online” is OK.

Jesus describes these individuals as the seed that fell on the pathway in the parable of the sower. He said, “…A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. (Matthew 13:3-4). The Lord subsequently explained this to be those who receive the word but lacked the understanding, thereby allowing the devil represented as the birds of the air to steal it from them. Expecting such Christians to bear the fruit of the Spirit, such as Love which is a file in the Spirit’s folder, is not possible. They lack the understanding of the meaning of Love because no attempts have been made to download it. When they, however, get to public places where there seem to be “spiritual connectivity”, such as the church environments, they try their best to compose themselves and show a certain form of the love file. Since it is the “online” version kept in the cloud, once they leave those public arenas and get to their closets and private lives, it becomes non-responsive with the sign (️?) besides that file on the tablets of their hearts.

Others have also clicked on the download button of the Holy Spirit folder, but the downloading sign (⬇️) keeps rolling for only God knows when it will finish successfully. Users of computers and modern technological devices will bear me out of how frustrating this can be. In the parable of the sower, this represents the seed that fell on the rocky places. According to Jesus, “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” (Matthew 13:5-6). These are Christians who do not stay at the feet of the Lord where spiritual connectivity is highest to learn of Him so the folder can quickly download successfully with all the drivers installed. Requesting of them to bear one of the files, say, Peace is always a problem. Peace has not yet sat in their hearts, so they cannot exhibit or share it with others. Peace is not a spirit in the cloud that is invoked into circumstances irrespective of our actions and inactions. Christ calls His children peacemakers because Peace is designed and made by downloaded carriers of it. Individuals loaded with so much pride yet expects to have a peaceful co-existence with others are perfect examples of those whose folder is still loading. They at times cannot understand why there seems to be so much tension, confusion and anarchy within their areas of operation. Yet, in the church or where Christians gather, they appear so calm and peaceful. It is no mystery or rocket science, my brother or sister! You are just operating the “online” version, which sits in the cloud or the public space. Find a suitable location at the feet of Christ, stay there for some time and fully download the folder with all its drivers before leaving, and you will be fine.

The third group of Christians are those who clicked the download button, completed the download with all related drivers, but the synchronization of the Holy Spirit folder to that of their soul still turning. Usually represented by this sign (?) on most devices, it is a process that does not take long.

A slow sync time indicates corrupted data or an application using too much of the device or phone’s storage space. Unfortunately, for years, these Christians have had their synchronization sign (?) still rolling and uncompleted. If proactive steps are not taken, they may die without successfully synched with the Holy Spirit folder. The Lord Jesus likened such people to the seed that fell among thorns. He said, “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” Breaking this down, He continued, “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” The worries of this life, together with the deceitfulness of wealth when allowed, is what uses too much of one’s heart or storage space, thereby corrupting it. Expecting such Christians to exhibits files such as forbearance, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control will be a complete waste of time. Their understanding of riches in the Lord has been corrupted, their appreciation of forbearance is virtually non-existent. The kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control they exhibit is also very shallow because they have allowed worldliness to use too much of their heart’s storage space.

We all get frustrated when we think we have invested so much into other people’s spiritual life but not still seeing them bearing the fruits of the Spirit. When you meet such people, they profess to be Christians and make all the noise about their spirituality. It is one great challenge facing most Christian or para-church organizations. Indeed, a search in their browser will indicate that particular fruit or file except that you see the cloud or undowndloaded sign (️?) besides their hearts. Other characteristics of the three groups of Christians discussed above or what I call “online” spirituality stored in the cloud is as follows;

  1. The fruit of the Spirit only operates within the church confines, amongst a specific group of People or when others they revere are watching. Once offline or no one is around to watch, the flesh, the default drive, prevails. As long as Jesus was physically around, Peter did his best to bear good fruit. As soon as Jesus was arrested and the cares and pressures of this life begun mounting on him, he denied Him outrightly. Peter was yet to download an offline version fully configured in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.
  2. Hypocrisy becomes the order of the day.
  3. Whenever the server is down, or data becomes scarce or it becomes difficult to be fellowshipping together (Eg, the Covid lockdown), they get exposed because the flesh takes over entirely.

Thank God for the fourth group of Christians the Lord Jesus spoke about. This is the class I love and always pray to be and remain. He said in Matthew 13:8, “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” He explained this to be those who hear the word and understand it. His illustration with the parable of the sower has demystified why some Christians cannot bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Before accepting Christ, everyone’s default drive is the flesh or the (F) drive. After receiving the Holy Spirit folder through the acceptance of Christ, Christians must download the newly shared folder from the cloud so it will be operational at all times, be it  private spaces or public gatherings. Once it starts downloading, of course, like all files, some will tick, but within a matter of time, and once you keep your reception stable, the device will download all the nine files. Those who have successfully downloaded it have the correct sign (✅) by their hearts. When done, all the files will work offline and at every remote village and circumstance, even when there are power outages.

Interestingly, the Holy Spirit folder comes with its UPS, known as the Holy Spirit baptism. Configuration of settings after the successful download is the empowerment one receives through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Once done, sharing, re-booting and servicing other people’s corrupted files by releasing the oppressed and discipleship becomes easy. The charger is prayer, and the power source is the word of God. Therefore, the whole world can be as dark as anything; once the folder syncs successfully with your spirit and soul, you will still be the light and hope for all others to depend on. Remember, the Egyptians had to rely on Israel’s light for 3-days when thick and palpable darkness engulfed the whole Land of Egypt except in Goshen, where the Israelites were residing. (Exodus 10:22-23).

Graciously and thankfully, one does not need any updated version of the Jesus App or operating system if the original version was the one shared and downloaded. Unfortunately, some download the unauthentic or abridged versions from unsecured sites, markets and servers. Examples are some of the nuances of the prosperity gospel, once saved forever saved and other related defective doctrines that Christ never espoused. Those who have downloaded the Holy Spirit folder need to keep their hands on the refresh button for smooth operations. For our discussion, Refreshing is having constant devotional life and periodic waiting and revival when you sense your system is experiencing overheating. However, those whose Christianity remains in the cloud must first download it and not hide under the refresh button to impress others when “online”. That will be the greatest disservice to themselves. Time, situations and circumstances will expose such Christians even in this life not to talk of the next life.

Apostle Peter and Co. were a delight to watch after the day of Pentecost. They openly displayed the files or the fruit of the Holy Spirit folder for all eyes to see. They became a blessing not only unto others but also unto themselves and their families. The only apparent benefit of online Christianity is that you can be a blessing to others by becoming a signboard for others to enter eternity while you end up in eternal destruction. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30). The downloaded version is what is being referred to here and not the online version which resides in the cloud. We, therefore, have no choice but to stop galavanting around and download the folder with all of its drivers fully configured and shareable to the lost until we finally meet the Lord in the cloud. Stay blessed.

Written by Pastor James Orhin Agyin (j.orhinagyin20@icloud.com)

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