Are you too spiritual – so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good?

Are you too spiritual – so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good? February 11, 2021

“Too spiritual. So heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good” – a few years ago, I would have been proud to be described like this. YES, I’m all about eternity. I’m but a stranger here, life is a desert drear, heaven is my home. The only thing that mattered about other people was the spiritual: have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Do you know where you’ll go when you die?

Like a good Evangelical, I supported missions that preached the Gospel, but not really those that “only” tended to people’s physical needs. I mean, the Bible was clear on this point: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [food and clothes] will be added unto you” (Matt.6:33). That’s what Jesus said, so that settles it.

I sometimes gave to some charities that “just” fed people, but I prioritized those that “fed the bread of life.” Because once you are in the kingdom and pursuing righteousness, “all those other things” will be added unto you. This is how, I rationalized, I was actually )albeit indirectly) feeding and clothing people.

The story of how my conservative Christian community (what I call the CCC) rejected me – and I rejected it – I’ve told elsewhere.

The bottom line is that I began to really see people around me, for the first time, as people, not just a mission field. I stopped seeing just two categories: the saved and the need-to-be-saved, the Christian and the universal heathen, the finished product and the next project.

Now I’m going to preach.

Every person has value – infinite value – right now, as he or she is in this moment, regardless of their past and regardless of their future. No one should be told, “I know you’re hungry and cold, but are you saved? What you really need now isn’t food and shelter. What you really need is Jesus.”

I know that runs counter to Evangelical logic. But we have to think for ourselves. We shouldn’t assume that, just because our teachers have meant well, they were giving us God’s best. Never forget that Christian teachers rationalized the Inquisition, the Crusades, slavery, and Jim Crow. Never forget that Christian leaders opposed civil rights.

So, while Evangelicalism tells us that everyone should “seek first the kingdom…and all these things will be added unto you,” it does so to the exclusion of other passages (i.e. Matt. 6:33 isn’t the only verse on the subject.) Think for yourself:

  • Jesus fed 5,000 people with actual food, without first demanding conversion (actually, according to Matt. 14, he “had compassion on them and healed their sick” and then told the disciples, “you give them something to eat”).
  • Jesus advocated for the woman caught in adultery without first demanding repentance (John 8).
  • Jesus said very specifically (Matt. 25) that those who care for the needy will be rewarded – the physically needy, not the spiritually needy. (Evangelical thinking – including by people who don’t identify as Evangelical – reinterprets this parable to refer to spiritual needs because of Matt. 6:33. Really there is no indication that Jesus was talking about spiritual needs here.)
  • When Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), his message was: I want you to care for the needy, not be a religious snob who avoids the needy. In fact, the Samaritan according to this, would “inherit eternal life”!

Bottom line:

In no way do Jesus’ life and preaching indicate that we should tend to the spiritual needs of others to the exclusion of their physical needs.

We are not exempt from caring for the hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned – in fact, caring for them is our mandate if we want to receive God’s reward.

So, to my dear Evangelical and Evangelical-minded friends, be earthly-minded and heavenly minded. Leave behind that binary thinking that says, “If you haven’t asked Jesus into your heart, that’s your only real need.” Instead, think: “How would Jesus meet this person right now?”

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Conservative Christians: is this who we want to be?

Let’s talk about eternity for a minute – Pt 1, Good Samaritan

Let’s talk about eternity for a minute – Pt 2, sheep and goats 

The deception of “righteousness”

FEATURED IMAGE: “Aurora Borealis – Bear Lake, Alaska” by Trodel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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One response to “Are you too spiritual – so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good?”

  1. Kathryn. As you already know I disagree with your article.

    FYI The crusades were a late response by the Roman Catholic empire against the invasions by the Muslim empire.
    Slavery was throughout the world and not specifically Christian.
    And it was the Democrats who were for slavery, Jim Crowe, KKK, etc.

    Were the Roman Catholics and Democrats acting in obedience to Christ’s command to love (John 13:34) where love does no harm to another (Romans 13:10)?
    Obviously not.

    But Progressives always love to misrepresent Christianity with these same old propaganda points aimed at demonizing Christianity in general.

    It seems to me that such coverall allegations are aimed at deflecting from the Democrats historical record of slavery, KKK, Jim Crowe, and their opposition to civil rights.

    As for your reference to scriptures to justify your priority for physical needs (perhaps we can call it “too earthly minded to be any spiritual good”), I suggest you’ve missed the primary (and thus spiritual) message in them .

    Remember that scripture is HIDDEN wisdom (1Corinthians 2:7), MYSTERIES (Matthew 13:11), a book that is SEALED (Isaiah 29:11) that needs to be SPIRITUALLY discerned (1Corinthians 2:14).

    Jesus Christ specifically indicated in Matthew 6:33 “SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness” BEFORE our physical needs, and then God provides.

    This is consistent with Christ’s priority for the preaching of the gospel (Mark 16:15, Matthew 25:31-46).

    And as for doing physical charitable deeds for the physically needy, we should do this IN SECRET so that ONLY GOD SEES IT (as Jesus said in Matthew 6:1-3)

    We should not be like the self serving virtue signalling social justice types who love to trumpet their supposed “virtue” for all to see for the worldly reward of praise/acknowledgement and political propaganda purposes (Matthew 6:1-3).

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