There’s a video that’s been out on the web for some time now called “The Awareness Test.” (See below) If you follow the directions in the video, you’ll most likely fail the test as I did.
A friend just sent me this video. It has a secular purpose but it effectively illustrates the need for spiritual awareness. Every day and just about every minute of every day, this world does its best to influence us in ways that move us away from God, prayer and our spiritual identity as His child. The barrage of sights and sounds from the world around us come in many forms, but you will usually find materialism, sensualism, popularity, amusement, greed, prestige, and/or position at the heart of it all.
Those who pray to God daily might tend to think of themselves as above most worldly tugs. They might like to think that they can engage in this world–walk, talk, listen and look at it—without being affected that much by it. And yet the above video shows how naïve that belief is. We’re usually not as observant and watchful as we like to think we are.
This is so true with spiritual issues. Mentality matters! And we are, all too often, completely unaware of what is happening in our lives. This worldly mentality can be a very subtle and seemingly innocent shift in thought.
Jesus’ disciples illustrated this perfectly for us. Jesus was being hunted down by religious and secular governments. He knew they intended to kill him. So he sought the peace and quiet of an olive garden to pray. He took his three trusted friends with him and asked them to pray with him. They fell asleep. And they kept sleeping even after Jesus asked them to stay awake.
Back when I first began reading this story, I thought: “How could they do that to him?!” “How could they fall asleep at such a crucial time when their friendship and prayers were so needed?” Now I realize how easy it is to just fall asleep—to become influenced by the world, even while praying, and be completely unaware of that it is happening to you. Maybe this is why Jesus told his followers to not only pray, but “Watch and Pray!”
The road to spirituality is not about becoming more harsh, unbending and strict in obeying rules. On the other hand, it is making sure that we’re not cavalier or dismissive about the elements in this world that can do us in. Christian practice should be about becoming more mentally discriminating about what really is good and what is not good for us and others.
Worldly influence would love to have us all get a bit drowsy as we float down the river towards the falls. It’s this common influence that actually undermines the need for spiritual alertness. I’ve heard people say: “What’s the big deal?” “It’s only a movie.” “It’s only my thoughts about politics.” “It’s only my opinion on a social issue.” “Hey, everyone else is doing it.”
Well, it’s pretty hard to change the world if you’re doing what everyone else does and just going along for the ride! To be spiritual discerning we must be discriminating and that means being different!
So, here’s one way to start. Things are rarely all good and all bad in this world we live in. But how often do we describe something as all bad or all good. You either hear, “I don’t like it” period! Or “It’s awesome!” or “That was excellent!” Next time, think about taking a more spiritually discerning approach.
If you give your opinion about something, no matter what it is, try digging a bit deeper. If you liked it, fine. But I’ll bet if you really pray to be more discriminating you realize some downsides—some cautions—that are important to mention.
Same thing in reverse. If you don’t like something, then say so. But pray to see the good in it too. There is almost always something good to say about an issue or event even if it looks really bad to us.
This isn’t just about our opinions. It is about our discipline to be spiritually discerning about the world around us. What we endorse or condemn says something about us. If we pray to make the world a better place; if we call ourselves a healer; then we’re not here to just go along with the way other people are thinking and living. And to the extent that we are erroneously influenced, it makes it harder to have a divine, healing influence on others.
If you at least realize that, and are striving and praying to be awake to the mentality that pulls you down, then you are taking an important step towards the spiritual awareness, alertness you need. And that gives you the ability to stop mindlessly floating down stream along with others and begin to open your eyes and others’ eyes to what is and what is not from God.