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Phony Baloney Spirituality

Aren’t you tired of Christians who seem too good to be true? People so goody goody you just know it’s all a sham? I sure am. And I’m also weary of pretense in Christian books. I have such real hard time finding compelling Christian books because everyone wants to pontificate but no one wants to relate. No one talks about where they really live.

The Bible is all about authentic relationships. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of right relationships, and right relationships are based on reality, not sappy spiritual charades. As the Santana song says, “Be real, or just ferbittaboutit!”

The only kinds of relationships that help me grow are unblushingly honest ones. God knows that. Like no other religious book, the Bible candidly exposes God’s greatest heroes with all their flaws, foibles and faults. From Samson’s weakness for wanton women to Abraham’s unbelief, Rehab’s whoredom and David’s adultery and murder, we see His saints in all their frail humanity. Even the Apostle Paul openly confesses his evil sexual lust. In that tradition, let me share with you about my weakness. But this isn’t confession for confession’s sake. Most things God would like to do in our world don’t happen because we are obsessed with our sins and weaknesses. If we can get over that, imagine what God could do through us feeble vessels. We can’t wait until we’re perfect to allow God to use us. He needs us in this life. 

I’ve often been often seized with an irrational fear that I would somehow blunder into an affair and wreck everything -- my ministry would perish, my family be destroyed and God’s Kingdom on earth would suffer irreparable damage. I still laugh when I think of the life-changing retreat I attended in Chicago 1979. Now, 27 years later, I still lead growth and healing retreats patterned after that event. I feared going because Chicago was the home of the Playboy Empire. I was positive some seductive playmate would corner me in O’Hare airport and my whole universe would come crashing down. Of course, that never happened. But at the retreat attractive women outnumbered men by four to one. I developed an adolescent infatuation over a woman from Oklahoma and acted like an idiot while she studiously avoided me.

Why did God allow this temptation and resulting humiliation? Consider this quote from GK Chesterton. He claimed, “The man knocking on the prostitute’s door is really looking for God.”

I thought I wanted an affair, some new exciting woman to make me feel alive and loved. I was drawn to illicit sexuality like a moth to the proverbial flame as if it would somehow save my carnal soul. But my hidden sin belied an evil deep within me worse than any mere fleshly lust. In my heart of hearts I had insulated myself against the very possibility that anyone could really love me ever since the death of my grandfather when I was ten. All my temptations were not because I needed sex. I longed for real love, but I was terrified of ever again being devastated like I was when he died. While I held out my pitiful emotional cup, begging for the soothing water of love and acceptance, I constantly clamped my other hand over the top of the cup so no one could pour any in!

Through this incident, I saw that God loves us enough to risk His reputation on us while He patiently engineers the things that help us become more loving. Ultimately that’s what eternal life is all about. It doesn’t start when we go to heaven; it begins when we allow heaven to invade our very soul. If we have to screw up some things to discover God’s compassion, He let’s us do that. His grace has us covered while we learn such priceless lessons.

Life is all about learning how to love, which includes letting God love us, warts and all. I’m learning to fear my sins of omission more than my sins of commission; to grapple as much with my refusal to love as I do with my propensity to lust. And as I do that, a marvelous miracle takes place. I not only care more about those around me than I ever thought possible, but I also find my more obvious sins shriveling up and dropping off like a wart treated with Compound W. I find His grace is big enough for my sin, his love sufficiently potent to irradiate my lust, and His steadfast compassion the only thing that helps me become more holy. God has begun a good work in me: the strenuous effort of restoring my shattered soul. Thankfully, He won’t quit until that tedious task is finished. 

Ken Unger is President of and founder of, where you can learn more about him and his transformative ministry. click here ,
 "Ken's new book, The Ultimate Breakthrough, goes beyond self help to self healing. You can preview it at  The Ultimate Breakthrough "




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