15 Ailments of the Church #6: Spiritual Amnesia

Read 2 Peter 1:1-9


“So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39 NLT)

al0124c_1_bigHave you ever had amnesia? I can tell you, from personal experience, that it is most definitely a terrifying experience. It happened to me on a Summer afternoon, the summer going into my freshman year of high school. I was riding my bicycle with my sister down to the local gym to workout. I was looking to go to football camp and tryout for the football team. Just as I had done so many times before hand, I crossed the road to go down a side road that brought me to a “safer” spot to cross the highway. The only problem is that I did not look both ways as fully as I had thought and ended up getting hit by a pickup truck. From that point on, and even to this day there are spots of time that I cannot remember as a result of the accident. For instance, I can remember being surrounded on the side of the road by the first responders, but I cannot remember getting to the side of the road. Anyway, all of this talk about amnesia reminds me of Pope Francis I’s sixth ailment of the church.

6th Ailment of the Church: Spiritual Amnesia. The Pope actually called it Spiritual Alzheimer’s; however, I am not comfortable using that terminology because of the real pain term could unintentionally bring to people who are suffering from real Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their families. So, I have chosen to use the word amnesia because it functions the same way. Basically, the Pope’s point is that there are leaders and laity who have forgotten their own encounters with the Lord. Such people, though they claim to be believers and followers of Christ, rely on the here and now, on their impulses, and on their unchecked emotions. Such people build walls around themselves and become enslaved to human institutions, rules, regulations and other things that are built with their own hands. This, as the Pope rightly points out, is really a form of idolatry, for the worship their own ideas of God rather than actually worshiping the transcendent God, the One who transcends their ideas.

It starts off simple. People forget the Lord whom they have encountered. It’s not that they forget that they have encountered God per se; however, it is that the God they encountered ends up getting hidden behind all of the things they have put in place of God. Whether it be the religion, the church, the denomination, the traditions of a local congregation, a particular interpretation of the Bible, a specific image of God, or anything else that gets in the way of our truly worshiping God, those things repress and eventually choke out our memory of the Lord we have encountered in our lives.

Christ is looking to jog your memory. Christ is calling you to place aside those things that keep you from remembering Christ and Christ’s call on your life. Don’t let your whims, your passions, your ideas, and/or your walls of separation keep you from remembering your experience with the one who called you into the life of the church to begin with. Take a whiff of the smelling salts, wake up, and remember your Lord and all that God has called you to be  and do. Remember that you are called to serve, not to be served. You are called to love just as you have been loved by God. You are called to care for the “least of these” and to do so as one of them, not as one above them. Guard yourself against the perils and disease of spiritual amnesia so that you can experience the true joy of the Spirit-filled life!


“We do not remember days, we remember moments” – Cesare Pavese


Lord, thank you for encountering me and revealing yourself to me. Help me to both remember those moments and to never forget them. Amen.

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