Abstract: In our conscious moments, we are aware of reality, but we may perceive only part of it or understand little of it. Nonetheless, we recognize that there is a real world and we are part of it. We can deny it, but we cannot escape it. This reality includes both the physical and non-physical realms, both of which are inhabited by personalities. This reality includes both right and wrong, which affect the way we think and behave. There is no way out. Our perception does not alter reality, although personal perception does condition us. However, due to human limitations, be it self-imposed limitations or our differences in opportunities and measures of intelligence, we do not have full awareness of the cosmos. This paper provides a reader with the author’s personal testimony on these experiences. In a way, I can be engrossed in other aspects of life and be selective in what I learn due to time constraints or necessity as I struggle to find myself in the world. Some of these lead me to good effort and fulfilment while others are detrimental and distract me from a noble path. While positive and negative attractions are equally appealing, humans are responsible for their individual decisions and actions. As spiritual formation is assessed in the personal environment, an action plan is also created to address relevant challenges, focusing on planned future actions in light of the setting and the personal blessings and obstacles. Finally, the author gives a case scenario where he tries to apply the concept of spirituality in the workplace, as a way to explain to others the value of a good understanding of spirituality and its impact on daily life.
Key Words: Spirituality in Daily Life, Christian Ethics, Personal Spiritual Testimony, Christianity and Secularization, Spirituality and Human Limitations
I. Evaluating Spiritual Formation in View of a Personal Environment
In today's materialistic world, I struggle to find myself in the world and with human nature, I find myself with an endless desire to acquire wealth and this lust is growing stronger day by day. To a certain extent, I am committed to keeping my Christian faith, but quite often I lose the ethics in the means of acquiring materialistic gains. It is with this desire to manage more that I yearn for the things of the world and refuse to part with them paying undue attention and causing disappointments, frustrations, stress and anxiety - factors that make me unfortunate. Underneath, my view of unhappiness is associated with certain spiritual attacks that are said to cause occasional illness, loss and bring about a state of disapproval. With all this chaos, this paper aims to reflect on spiritual formation in view of my own environment.
1.2. Rationality and the cosmos
While being academician, I have been trained in science during my young age and I was convinced about believing demonstrable things and taking informed decisions, that is, reality that is based on demonstration. One way to live my Christian life has been a struggle to interpret the Bible in light of scientific discoveries. Yes, I feel and can see the power of God, but why do the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2 differ from the scientific evolution account about the origin of life? Perhaps an answer could be, it was too early for God to explain the matter in scientific terms because ordinary people, like me who are new to science, could not understand, so He preferred to simplify it. Yes, at one end, I stood with the desire to know everything in the cosmos but that could make me doubt and eventually unbelief in God. This view has been affecting my way of understanding things, particularly the origin and end of life. How could I believe if a man can be filled with the Holy Ghost if it can't be scientifically proven? Yet when I dreamed of things, I could see them materialize immediately the next morning! What was that? Couldn’t that be God revealing things to me? How that could be demonstrated by Science? What are the limitations of science? Can science be expected to explain everything? I believed like Linden (2021) that science isn’t in that field. Maybe a scientific explanation for dreams could mirror brain and memory patterns (Werner, 2018), but it doesn't support any brain encounter with new memory and how that can come true!
Researchers in this area know when dreams are happening by monitoring the test subject's brain wave patterns. If subjects are awakened during the first of the night's dream cycles, they all report dreaming about what happened during the day. As the night progresses, the brain "edits" this information; by storing some as memory and "deleting" others. The mind, while dreaming, tries to maintain some sort of narrative by filling in the blanks with previous memories already stored and with archetypal images (Werner, 2018). Can science explain the origin of these archetypal images, or why they transcend cultures? So, as the dreamers are awakened during subsequent dream cycles, the "narrative” becomes more and more confusing and chaotic. We normally only remember dreams from the last dream cycle, the one just before waking up, when the story is most bizarre and chaotic. Therefore, although the process is well understood, the experience is very strange. Trying to read the "meaning" in dreams is a foolish task; there is none to be had, hence the interpretation of dreams becomes a pseudoscience. So, how could we know this? There is a reason, I emphasize the topic: my life if driven by dreams and they predetermines the decisions I make in the secular environment. However, with personal limitations, my prophetic dreams are often mixed with some brain memories and a struggle remains that of interpretation.
There are often times when Christian prophesied things to me that exactly matched my dreams and they came true, but there are also often times when witches revealed my dreams and predicted my future and it came true. What is that? Perhaps proof of the existence of spiritual powers? So do Christians use the same spiritual power as witches, or perhaps it’s mirror? Musopole (1993) is so clear about the absolute difference that we are surrounded by evil and good spirits. While Jesus cast demons (Matthew 17:14-20; Luke 4:31-44), and told us how to overcome evil spirits, Apostle Paul mentions the gift of discerning of spirits in 1 Cor. 12:10. The reality is that humans should not neglect the spirit world. We may now be aware of everything in the cosmos as human limitations block the possibility of full cosmos consciousness, we may have limited intellectual capacity to know, decide to be selective about what we learn or simply refute the knowledge that comes our way. However, Christians should know that "... our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
1.3. A wrestle with desire to find myself in the world
A reflection on my Christian witness in the secular environment has much of the desire to acquire material wealth, with a lot of attractions. Although some attractors can be seen as opportunities to draw closer to God, others are rather unfavorable.
In the frantic race to accumulate wealth, I lose sight of the purpose of human life. My precept tell me that rarely do I get the human life of millions of lives. Scholars have visualized that a child, when in his mother's womb, remembers his past lives and prays to the Almighty that once he comes out of the womb he will strive not to be born again (Bhagwan, 2017). Does the Bible teach soul transmigration? Therefore, the only goal of this rare life is to attain salvation. This implies that once we are born, the world around us pulls us towards materialistic life. These are the few blessed who are shown the grace of God, yet it is the grace of God that guides us to navigate through the rugged terrain of this materialistic life. It is not necessarily needed to observe renunciation from daily life activities in order to indulge into spirituality. In Shrimad Bhagwad Gita (Chapter 8, Verse 7), Lord Krishna says: “Constantly remember me at all times and fight, offering your mind and spiritual intelligence unto Me and certainly you shall attain Me without doubt’ (cited in Bhagwan, 2017). This teaching from Lord Krishna is for all of us to learn that in the midst of all actions we should try to remember God. This remembrance connects us to God and always helps us do the job better. In this way, each work becomes a worship. Based on these teachings, the balance of habits between spiritual and material life is very necessary.
In view of the above and self-examination, one falls short about making decisions especially when the right decisions are disadvantageous. As a Christian Entrepreneur, it is important to recognize that it all begins, ends, and consists with God. Can a person follow the teachings of both Jesus and Krishna? It is this recognition of His sovereignty that allows us to go left when He tells us despite all of our experience telling us we should be going right. It is that unwavering trust that following His Word will always win out in the end. It is the acceptance that He has unlimited resources at His disposal to bring about His will through us if we only do not stand in His way. This recognition is why we react differently when we are wronged, when we are slandered, when we are not paid, how we treat our employees, how we think about our competitors, how we deal with our customers, and how we run our businesses. Instead of running my business out of fear of misfortune arising from activities performed against a disagreement with my conscience, I must be committed to more than increasing my bottom-line for personal gain. There will always be attractions to robbing, lying, employee exploitation and other pressures such as peer pressure, physical need, physical want, conviction, fear, and conscience that pertain to the satisfaction of worldly desires, but it’s important to back to the stewardship principle of Christian life. All of such attractions aren’t putting us to the noble path, especially when we don’t apply personal intellect and discern the will of God at any steps. My wrestle within Christian entrepreneurship is a commitment to live life to my fullest potential and impacting the lives of others along the way. It’s about maintaining a relationship with God through every business interaction and transaction.
As Christian entrepreneurs we deal with heavier issues beyond that of business gains & losses . . . we deal with the Spirit. If our spirit is not tuned to God’s frequency then depression can set in and affect everything around us. How can we be fishers of men when we’ve been rocked by a thunderous storm? This is why it’s important to keep a constant relationship with God and the people He places in our lives to keep us afloat. It’s easy for us to get down on life’s hardships, bad news of the economy, and the general feeling that we’re not where we want to be with our businesses. However, as a Christian entrepreneur, we must understand that whatever God placed in our heart, He already made a way for us to do it! He’s given us all the tools, resources, and equipment we need to be successful! However, with human nature everything collapses with our freshly prepared desires.
1.4. Human nature of sin
Since humans are subject to sin, we are susceptible to sin in every areas of human affairs, including at business and workplaces. Observation tells us that each person has his/her own struggles and that what bothers one person may not bother another (Srygley, 2021), hence what causes people to stumble are different. The layman tends to advocate giving in to any temptation, thereby denying the basic assumptions of the Christian faith. Often, secular businesses and workplaces are seen as belonging to the realm of the people as opposed to the properties of God. Our desire to own and manage the properties of God with our own standards leads us to obey our human nature for evil.
James 4:1-3 is so clear that evils occurs because of lust. Economic difficulties can cause family problems (even divorce), company problems, and national government problems. Nations have gone to war over nothing more than economic issues. It’s when we recognize God as the owner of our businesses that we can be in harmony with his plan for our life. This is revealed repeatedly throughout Scriptures1 God has delegated this ownership or stewardship to people2. Humans do not own anything outright, even ourselves. As image-bearers of God, we possess subordinate ownership. We are therefore accountable to Him (God) for how we use everything entrusted to our care. Yet it is important to recognize that it is not society that has "ownership" of goods, but rather, individuals. What has been entrusted to my neighbor is not mine, thus God has commanded me not to covet or steal my neighbor’s goods.
In all, this reflective paper inspires in making a decision as a Godly entrepreneur. It is useless to be a hearer only, but a doer; applying these Biblical patterns into this world (Kosmos) - the one we have overcome already (IJohn 5:4) to fulfill our wealthy place, so that the Kingdom can be extended greatly.
II. Meeting Challenges to Spiritual Formation
With the above assessment of spiritual formation in my own environment, a few gaps were identified in how my view of God differs from my way of life. While viewing myself as a Christian committed to living a Christ-like life, an occasional disconnection with God keeps me from feeling like I'm in God's plan for my life. This not only determines the behavior and actions I take especially when things are going badly, but also the attitude I show towards the people around me. In this piece of paper, an action plan is developed to address my perceived weakness.
1 Psalm 50:10-12 -All is God's ; Job 41:11 - All under heaven is God's; Exodus 19:15 - All the earth is God's ; Haggai 2:8 - The silver & gold are God's
2 Acts 5:1-10 -Ananias & Sapphira owned property; Genesis 24:2 - Abraham owned property; Genesis 30:4 - Rachel owned property; Matthew 19:22 - The young man had great possession