Clear Ahead

Don't be misled into simplistic formulae for the spiritual life. Grace is free, but that doesn't mean we sign up for an easy life when we commit to faith.

I can see it all now! It's all so clear! I've got it!.
The trouble is that every time we think we've 'got it' life moves on and throws another obstacle in our path. How nice it would be if we could really learn the eternal issues and understand 'how to do it'.

Deluded by Method
Well, no. It wouldn't really be nice; it would be a deception. That's just the problem with much that is being offered in the name of Christianity. The church has often been deluded by method, as if we could define God, package him, and deliver him as an instant solution.

Quick fixes
I had a defining encounter with Christ that was called my conversion; my re-birth. But new birth is an entrance, not a final destination. Early Christian writers taught that 'much tribulation' is the route to spiritual growth. The offer of 'quick fixes' is a post-Reformation deceit that's at least as dangerous as the mediaeval practice of indulgences which Luther condemned. God is not to be found in a formula, in a set of rules or any institution. He wants to be sought.

Religious marketing-speak may offer a simplistic Positive and Negative. But, between the black and the white lies the rainbow of life's reality in its true, glorious colours. You can't take it all in at one glimpse. It is there to be gazed upon; to be experienced; to be lived.

Pathway through Pain
Jesus took no short-cuts. Though it may be painful and discouraging, I prefer to follow him by way of the cross rather than follow the triumphalists to instant happiness. Don't desert the rough road of experience for the high-speed bypass to ready-made spiritual 'success'. When life's experiences come your way, accept the negative, the positive and the uncertain in-betweens. Grace is not a short-cut to gratification; it is a pathway through pain to healing.

You'll Make It
How do we travel that pathway? After all I have said, it would be inconsistent to map out a fixed route. I couldn't do that anyway, because I'm still finding out for myself. The path is a narrow one; we walk it alone, though we need not be lonely. The way to God is just to want him. Grace got you on the path and grace will keep you there. The mist will often cloud the way ahead and make you doubt. But don't worry. It's clear ahead. You'll make it.

© Derrick Phillips - 1997