Today as I listened to a podcast by Matthew Kelly, he stated that “spiritual problems cannot be met by worldly solutions.” Kelly also stated his opinion that many of the problems facing our world today are spiritual problems that we try to solve ourselves with worldly solutions.
Perhaps that is the reason that some of my efforts to help those I love may have fallen short of being the help they need. I become so focused on what I can do materially and on my own, that I overlook praying to Jesus for guidance and help. It is ironic because Jesus is the reason underlying my desire to help others in the first place.
As Kelly points out, when we do that – when we lose focus that Jesus is at the center of our desire to help others – we risk becoming disoriented or misdirected, and often offer solutions that do not fill the spiritual void underlying so many of the causes of worldly strife, disillusionment, and dysfunction.
It’s true that there are many worldly challenges that require worldly solutions. But Kelly is right to reminds us that is not all that there is. I believe I will be more effective if I keep Jesus in focus and consider whether the challenges facing my family, friends, and me are primarily worldly ones or of a spiritual nature– and by acknowledging that many will be a combination of both.
What this means to me in practical terms is that I need to become better at thinking about Jesus when challenges arise and asking – through prayer — for God’s help and guidance. I need to assume the role of a “team player” and allow God to work through me for His purposes.
What a blunder that I’ve often tried to handle life’s challenges on my own with very little thought as to the spiritual cause that might underlie them. To the extent our challenges are purely worldly in nature, worldly solutions may be enough. But to the extent our challenges reflect a spiritual nature, we cannot eliminate God’s love, mercy, and will from the solution.
Jesus made a distinction between worldly and spiritual matters — and urged us to act accordingly.
“Watching their opportunity, they sent secret agents pretending to be honest men. They said to Jesus, ‘Sir, we know what an honest teacher you are. You always tell the truth and don’t budge an inch in the face of what others think, but teach the way of God. Now tell us – is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not? He saw through their trickery and said, ‘Show me a coin. Whose portrait is this on it? And whose name?’ They replied ‘Caesar’s – the Roman emperor’s.’ He said, ‘Then give the emperor all that is his – and give to God all that is his!”(Luke 20: 20-22)
I believe the distinction between worldly and spiritual matters continues to exist today, as it did thousands of years ago. It’s a distinction we cannot overlook if we are to be effective followers of Christ. And how could it be? For when we provide worldly solutions, we are limited by the possible. But when we provide spiritual solutions, everything is possible.
“This remark confounded the disciples. ‘Then who in the world can be saved?’ they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said ‘Humanely speaking, no one. But with God, everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)
Photo: Front and Back of Ancient Roman Coin, 27 B.C.-14 AD. On the front is Caesar Augustus’ face on denarius coin, a standard silver coin in the time of Christ. (Gaius and Lucius Caesars shown standing on the back of coin)