"In the assembly, I felt I had to constantly excel and be a 'super' Christian. I was to always be rejoicing. What is the 'normal' Christian life, anyway?"
Dear Wounded Pilgrim,
As new creations in Christ we do not become non-human spirit beings. The idea that true Christianity denies a common human psyche we share with all other humans in favor of a Spirit-produced super inner life that always is up and running in "overcomer mode" is clearly erroneous.
Romans 7 describes the normal Christian life for Paul as one of continual frustration with his inability to live up to what he knows to be good and right. In other words, we know what is right, but end up doing what is wrong sometimes. Paul ends the chapter with a joyful thanksgiving for his salvation in Christ and starts Roms. 8 with the declaration of "Now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."
Thus we live with failure, guilt, difficulty, doubt, stress, etc. (everything other humans face) and the same ego that can react to these negative influences. The normal Christian life is not the obliteration of the "self life," where we become immune and unaffected to things in this life.
Some of those who have left the Assembly were used to denying the fact of their own humanity in the past and now, since leaving, it has all opened up like some kind of Pandora's Box.
Since Assembly "spirituality" was based on the above false premise of the "overcomer", as one who could "reckon dead" their humanity, it created a kind of dream world where one lived in a "higher realm". This higher realm was achieved by denial of the facts of one's humanity and was supported by the ecstatic nature of "worship" times and "quiet times" that gave one an emotional high.
When the Assembly collapsed, and the whole notion that the Assembly provided this "living in the heights" went with it, the emotional high departed and left many with no way to relate to God or how to live the Christian life.
Since this emotional high equaled true spirituality, and these feelings supposedly were enabled by The Spirit, the lack of them meant God had left them. Most of these individuals had no interest in doctrinal issues, or the truth regarding erroneous practices, as their understanding of spirituality was, "it's better felt than tel't". Some who have left still have no interest in these things, as they are looking to regain the feeling that they have lost.
It is impossible to separate one's perception into a purely cognitive view of things as our egocentricity is a fact of our humanity. The first work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to bring us to a humble acknowledgment of this fact. The second work is to turn our focus to the fact that we are secure in Christ. This means we start to live by faith, instead of by some kind of tricky inner doings that seek to generate a surge of emotion from within.
I think that the above "psycho-emotional-spiritual" set-up explains the kind of malaise that many have experienced since leaving the Assembly. To heal from this false perception means a personal understanding of how this worked out in my own experience and learning instead to life an honest life by faith.
The true pilgrim's life of faith is never learned perfectly, but recovery will only come when we are headed in the right direction. The Gospel of the Grace of God is the only road for the Christian and that is why we must clearly understand it and center our hope there. From that fountain springs all spiritual life and blessing. We can't look within for inner promptings for our feeling of security, but instead trust the Word of God. God's wonderful love and acceptance of us is the foundation for a healthy and vital Christian life.
God Bless, Mark C.