ON SALVATION AND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE THAT SUCCEEDS IT.
there has been much talk of spiritual maturity in my community as of recent; of the need to press forward in the way we live our lives to enter into a place where God can begin to use us as we were designed. since the challenge was first put before us as a church by our pastoral leadership, i have been contemplating a lot what exactly it is that prevents us from growing spiritually. He began to reveal to me a lot during the Anchor’s month-long monastery time, and it has made me reevaluate many of my own attitudes to my own life and the situation we all find ourselves in: how to live out the Great Commission.
it has become more and more apparent to me that there is a concrete difference between our salvation and the christian life, a separation we too often fail to realize. when we cannot see these two central concepts of faith for what they really are, we find ourselves in a dangerous cycle of spiritual immaturity. much of this hinges on the attitudes of our society that tell us we are the most important thing in our lives, that we have to do what we can to elevate ourselves to where we (they?) want us to be. and so we allow this mentality to permeate our relationship with God, presenting him with a long list of requests and questions that we expect to be answered in the exact way we deem appropriate. how much do we limit God in this! while this is indeed part and parcel of what our relationship to God entails, we stop there. our prayers usually boil down to “what can i get from God?”, rather than “what can i do for God?” yes, it is true we need the Lord to reveal our weakness and brokenness, but there is so much more to experience beyond the (albeit painful) deconstruction of our selfish egos. it was pointed out to me at our men’s retreat a few months ago that we generally stop at confession (recognition of sin) and never partake in penance (movement away from sin).
when we only press for the need to be broken before God time and time again, we breed self-pity, not self-denial. And so we come to a place of addiction to the “experience” of salvation, an experiential faith that is removed from the necessity of pursuing a WAY of living that is pleasing before the Lord. we think coming before God to be broken down and healed of our hurt is a relationship. But it’s not! how much can we know about the character of God if we only seek healing (and by extension, self-preservation) in our lives? Where is our acknowledgment of God the Spirit in this? where is our growth?
growth comes through sacrifice.
the Lord has been revealing to me the lifestyle we are called to is in and of itself a sacrifice. oftentimes when we think of “sacrifice”, we see it as a way for us to prove ourselves to God, to validate our intentions. As if He cannot already read our hearts! We agree to be “transparent” before Him, as if He doesn’t already know our thoughts and see our actions. we must move away from this train of thought. we have to allow God His omniscience again, and rethink what a relationship looks like with Him considering the entirety of His being.
the sacrifices we make (i.e. our very lives) are not to prove to God that we’re dedicated. they aren’t the thing that proves some other aspect of our relationship, the sacrifice in and of itself IS the intention: to have an ACTIONARY response to God’s love. we become transparent before Him for own own benefit, that we might see OURSELVES as naked before Him, and see ourselves through His eyes (see Kierkegaard, first chapter of The Sickness Unto Death). Once we grasp the unending love He has for us, we begin to live in a way that honours that love. We seek to please Him in our thoughts and deeds, and we seek to find Him in every waking moment. life stops being about us and what we can get out of it, life becomes about what we can give to God.