The New Age movement is growing rapidly and gaining influence in our modern society. In his book, Searching Issues, popular theologian Nicky Gumbel quotes a survey that estimates that 25% of Americans are involved in some form of New Age practice. Many of those taking an interest in New Age are seeking deep, spiritual experiences and meaning in their lives. Even Christians who have allowed their faith to dry up can fall victim to seeking to fill that spiritual vacuum elsewhere.
I know. I’ve been there.
It began more than ten years ago. Although raised, baptized, confirmed, and married in the church, I did not really know God. I knew of him, but I didn’t really have a relationship with him. With a deep desire to know something more than what I was getting out of my occasional Sunday attendance, I began to look elsewhere.
Understanding the New Age Movement
New Age has been around for many years. It is an eclectic mix of practices involving Eastern mysticism, occult, meditation, humanism, nature religions, and various self-improvement techniques. On my quest, I read tarot cards, collected crystals, and studied Buddhism, meditation, visualization and Wicca.
New Age gains its appeal by emphasizing the importance of experience and spirituality. On the surface, who would question its apparent values of love, compassion, and unity? It promises utopia. New Age also seduces in its worship of self (God is within you) and its apparent freedom from guilt (there is no such thing as sin).
I didn’t realize it at the time, but the further I got into the New Age movement, the farther I got from God, whom I was desperately seeking. I was constantly moving from one practice to another, reading the latest book, seeking the latest “experience.”
We live in an instant culture. We want our answers now. “New Agers” often move from one technique to another, one guru to the next, seeking the next better spiritual high. Though the power found in many of these experiences is real, it is often short-lived and fails to satisfy.
Finding spiritual fulfillment
There came a day when I simply could not read yet another New Age book. They all sounded the same and I was slowly realizing that none of this was filling me up. Spiritually, I was empty.
Returning to church was not easy. On my first attempt, I cried during the service and felt very alone. It would have been all too easy to walk out the door again. I struggled deeply with what I thought I believed in. Could Christianity be true?
I wanted to know more about Christ, not what I had done wrong.
I also struggled long and hard with pride. It took me a very long time to admit that I had been traveling down the wrong path. I thought myself fickle and wondered if Christianity would be “just another phase” for me.
I realize now that I should have talked to someone at this point, but I felt that if other Christians knew about my involvement in New Age, I would be spurned, or worse, lectured to. I wanted to know more about Christ, not what I had done wrong.
Fortunately, I kept on going back. Occasionally at first, and then every Sunday. I attended workshops, read Christian books, and took the time to sort out my faith. Slowly I let the Holy Spirit seep back in and fill me up.
But what of others in the New Age movement? How are we presenting Christianity to those earnestly seeking spiritual fulfillment?
In Acts, we are told of how Paul spoke to the Athenians about their altar “To an unknown god.” Paul tells them that the God they worship as unknown, is “the God who made the world and everything in it” and who “himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:23-25). God is not some impersonal energy floating out there somewhere. God is real. He is the creator of the universe, and he wants a relationship with us. Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Christians need to show more of this experience of God — this relationship — to the outside world. Our very lives must demonstrate the supernatural, lasting power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead of condemnation, show compassion. Look for common ground in some New Age beliefs – the search for truth, fulfillment and spiritual experience – and use these as a bridge to talk about Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:19). We need to show how this living water is working in our lives and how deeply it satisfies.
The challenge for Christians is to live with Christ as the center of our lives, the Well of Living Water that will never run dry. We need to show others that Christ is relevant today and that the search for a transformed life can only rest when it meets the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.
Has my journey resonated with you? Are you looking to find your way back to Jesus or to encounter him for the first time? Then I encourage you to read Discover Life and talk with one of our free and confidential mentors.